Friday, 18 January 2013

Japanese Music Masters in Concert

After a hard day's work of gardening, it's always good to have some relaxation. What better way to relax than by listening to an interlude of music?
Yesterday evening I attended another sunset concert, but one with a difference.
The Embassy of Japan in conjunction with the Japan Foundation was presenting "Japanese Music Masters in Concert" as the evening's performance at the Frank Collymore Hall.
It was an event that I had penciled in on my agenda earlier this month, and was looking forward to, with much excitement.
Most of the concerts are free, but for some of them, tickets must be obtained beforehand. This was one of those concerts where tickets (still free) were needed.

The music masters being featured were Kaoru Watanabe and Isaku Kageyama.

From the programme:
Kaoru Watanabe's music can be best described as an ever shifting blend of the folk and classical traditions of Japan with contemporary improvisational and experimental music.
Kaoru was  a member and artistic director of Japanese Taiko ensemble, Kodo.
With Kodo, Kaoru toured in Japan, North America and Europe.
As an educator, Kaoru teaches workshops and master classes internationally, courses at Princeton and Wesleyan University and regular classes at his own studio, the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Centre in Brooklyn.

Isaku Kageyama is an internationally renowned Taiko performer and composer known for adapting classical Japanese music to a wide range of styles. Isaku is also recognized as a leading Taiko instructor, and currently holds positions at Wellesley University and University of Connecticut.  He has conducted workshops across the globe for organizations such as Berklee College of music (Boston), North American Taiko Conference (Stanford University), Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Centre (New York), Brazil Taiko Association (Sao Paulo), French Institute of Japan (Tokyo), and Yokohama International School (Yokohama).

The evening started out with brief remarks and a warm welcome by H.E. Yoshimasa Tezuka, Ambassador of Japan.
There were ten musical pieces on the programme , mostly rearranged traditional and self-composed pieces.  Both artistes were born in the United States but have retained their Japanese heritage.
Isaku is a Taiko drummer, and he drummed in all different positions, sometimes commanding two distinct drums at one time.
Both he and Kaoru play the drums.  Here they are on Youtube demonstrating their well-honed skills.

Kaoru on the other hand is a flautist as well, and his renditions on his bamboo flute were lovely.
One of the pieces he composed in an eleven beat rhythm called "Together Alone",  I found on  Youtube, where he is accompanied by a band, unlike last evening's performance.


Guest Artistes were the Haynesville Youth Club which specialises in African, Modern and Caribbean Folk dance and drumming.
They performed a medley of traditional African, Caribbean folk, calypso and Tuk Band rhythms.
The last piece  was a Japan and Bajan fusion, where both acts performed a musical tribute.
For me, the evening was a very enlightening musical experience, and one I'm glad I had the opportunity to enjoy.


  1. I know some Chinese music but Japanese is new to me. More to explore...

  2. Enjoy your musical exploration adventure CJ....I think you'll like it.

  3. That's the sort of music I could enjoy in a concert but would not listen to at home. Fascinating though.

  4. The flute has a haunting melody that reminds me of all the Chinese/Japanese background music in the kung fu films that my daughter adores. I could enjoy that music at home, since I also like pan flute melodies, but the drums are another story!!!

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