Saturday, October 22, 2016

Japanese traditional/contemporary music at Tenri.

Last night I went to TENRI, where I'm taking japanese lessons, for a concert of traditional japanese music. It was really a mix of traditional with contemporary styles, but very entertaining. Emiko Ota is the leader of several groups who play in France and abroad. She is spunky, full of energy and personality, and a little wild, with her pink-dyed hair and drumming (she plays a regular kit but last night was on traditional instruments, such as taiko). *photo from Ota's website.

Accompanied by Julien Omeyer, a French guitarist with whom she performs as the duo Kirisute Gomen, were complemented at various times by other artists, including flautist Mayu Sato (really good! website here), taiko drummer Nori Kajio (here, too...also excellent!), and an uncredited Noh theatre performer who stepped in, literally, for one piece.

I most enjoyed the moment where all performers were onstage together. The women in particular had strong stage presences, were musicians of a high caliber, and were interesting simply to watch, exuding energy, personality, and craftsmanship. The French guitarist provided a contemporary aspect to the sound,  with the addition of multi-pedaled guitar (he appeared surrounded by a fortress of effects, stands, and equipment), along with his inward and calm (though not unfriendly) stage demeanor. I was sitting next to an audience member who seemed very interested in the guitar pedals. Even though it appears that Kirisute Gomen's overall priorities lie within the realm of contemporary blending of traditional and electronic genres, to me the most convincing moments, musical and performance-wise, played themselves out with the acoustic instruments. The highlight of the evening was the moment when several performers were onstage together, with strong, contrasting personalities playing off one another and a highly engaging musical blend was created.

Overall a very engaging and exiting performance!

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