Monday, November 9, 2009

Playing and Playing

Last weekend I had what has become a usual bout with Autumn shakuhachi playing. It just seems to be the way of things here in Japan.

On Friday night, I joined my old friend and koto vituoso, Izumi Fujikawa for a concert in the new addition the Kumamoto Castle's re-building program, Honmaru Goten. We performed for the first time, a piece composed by Keiko Ueda called Mizu no Uta. It was a piece commissioned by Kumamoto City.
On Saturday, I performed in a cafe overlooking Kumamoto City called Lomi Lomi with haiku poet Shinjuku Rollingstone. I've done some of this kind of collaboration before with haiku poet Jim Kacean. It was an interesting afternoon in a nice location.

On Sunday, I performed in a very big production at Sojo University Citizens Hall. It was primarily a Nihon Buyou production with dances covering a huge variety of styles from classical pieces to folk dances. I was one of the accompanying musicians.
The first piece I played in was the second on the program: Tsuru no sugomori. This is a honkyoku piece with two parts, those of the male crane and the female crane. My teacher, Tsurugi Kodo played the male crane part and son n Kawase Junsuke III, Yousuke, played the female part. I and four other members of my local group played in the chorus. The piece was choreographed for 20 cranes with lead parts played by two prominant dancers from Tokyo.
I thought it was an interesting attempt, but in the end, I don't think it succeeded. The nature of a honkyoku piece is very difficult to choreograph to, especially for so many dancers.
Next, I was asked to improvise on a 2.8 for a demonstration of Ni ten ichi ryu which is the two handed sword style made famous by the samurai Miyamoto Musashi. The fact is, I wasn't supposed to play during this demonstration. The sword teacher, a man small in stature but big in aura, said that the BGM wasn't needed. The head Nihon Buyou teacher thought otherwise. I hadn't prepared anything for the piece, but when I was in the change room getting into my montsuki, my teacher informed me that it was on. Moral of the story: always be prepared. Nobody in the audience had a clue that it was thrown together at the last moment.
The last three pieces I played were folk tunes from Kumamoto. They were the finale of the 4 hour show with many dancers ranging in age from 4 to 75. There was also a large contingent of musicians including my daughter Sophie playing koto.


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  3. I had a similar experience like you on the concert which I joined two weeks ago.

    The band that I played the bass for had an hour to play but we finished songs which we were supposed to play earlyer. So, the lead singer told everybody to do a song that we were not going to play and he also suggested me that I sing the song playing the bass.

    Of course, I refused. I don't want to play a song that I don't get ready for, especially when I'm playing an instrument which is not my original part.

  4. I was surprised that you played such a big hall!
    You are a awesome teacher!
    Please play the shakuhachi for us someday.

  5. It is a wonderfull to play in a Honmaru Goten!
    I haven't gone there yet.

  6. Inuyasha does not use power such as the magic that Harry Potter uses.
    However,it may be similar that Inuyasha use special power.

    I have been to Honmaru Goten.
    It is beautiful.

  7. Thanks everyone. In fact, I've played on every stage in Kumamoto many times. I've also played on the National Theater Stage in Tokyo. It was an amazing place to perform.

  8. You played a shakuhachi on Friday on Kumamoto Hotel Castle, Saturday on a coffee shop, Sunday in the hall of Sojo university.
    You are very busy.
    But you look very happy!

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