Friday, January 23, 2009

Of Old and New

I'll have the opportunity to do something quite unusual on March 16th on the main stage of the Kumamoto Prefectural Theater in Kumamoto, Japan. I was invited to perform along with members of Pro Musica Nipponia, a professional Japanese traditional instrument performance group. It's an honour for me to do that, though it isn't the first time for me. I also had the chance and honour about 5 years ago when we performed Taketori Monogatari (The Legend of the Bamboo Cutter) which is a story put to music much like the larger Heike Monogatari. Though I'm thrilled to be doing it again, that isn't the point I want to make here. It has more to do with the choice of music for us to perform and a couple of the players who will be joining in.
As for the piece of music, we will be performing a well known composition by jazz pianist Chick Corea, entitled Spain. I'm not at all sure what possessed the organizer of this performance to go that route (I must ask them), but something tells me that it was an attempt to validate traditional instruments to some degree (I hope that's not the case). Of course attempts have and continue to be made using Japanese traditional instruemnts in the performance of a variety of modern works outside of the genre, so that in itself isn't new. But certainly, in the local area of Kumamoto, Japan, it hasn't been done on a large stage for a large audience. None-the-less, it will be interesting to see what comes of it.
Now the second point of interest is that I and PMN will also be joined on stage by an upcoming koto player who has only been learning the koto for 6 years. That person's name is Sophie Cairns and she is my daughter. Though she has played on many stages locally with local players, and in fact did her first solo performance of the very difficult piece Tori No Yo Ni (Like a Bird) by Sawai Tadao last December, this will be her first chance to play with such an elite group of professional players on a big stage. I'm excited for her and the other Kumamoto players who will be performing in the show. I'm also looking forward to it very much.
At this point, I don't know exactly who the other players will be, but the instrumentation will be piano, koto, shamisen, biwa (I understand that the very gifted Satsuma Biwa virtuoso Kumiko Shutoh will be playing), shakuhachi and wadaiko. I'll report again after the performance.


  1. I would like to go to watch to the stage. It should be really nice. I was surprised that your daughter also plays Japanese instrument. I'm glad to hear that. I am proud of Japanese tradition, so hearing about people who like that and involve it. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

  2. Great,I want to go to the such as the stage too if I have a time.
    I heard a little about your doughter is playd in disney land in before class.I don't know your doughter is also player of Japanese traditional instrument.

  3. Lily - I'll let you know in more detail about the concert. We are all just starting to rehearse now.

  4. willywilly - actually, those daughters you speak of are two different people. My eldest daughter works for Disney and my youngest daughter plays koto.

  5. Congratulation for you and for your daughter. It's amazing to know that you both play koto, and had the chance to play in the same concert...

  6. A little misunderstanding ther Reinaldo. I don't play koto, only my daughter does. I play shakuhachi. And the concert will happen next month in March. But thanks for your thoughts all the same.