posted September 30, 2010

Hope to Present “An Evening of Japanese Music” on Oct. 13

 Hope College will present "An Evening of Japanese Music" on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Wichers Auditorium of Nykerk Hall of Music.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

The concert will feature guest artists Michael Chikuzen Gould, Kuniyasu Iwazaki and Chieko Iwazaki. The ensemble will be performing traditional songs including "Honshirabe," "Sanya," Song in C, "Kaze no Uta" ("Song of the Wind") by Sawai Tadao and "Shika no Tohne" ("The Distant Cry of the Deer").

Each song tells of an aspect of Japanese history and culture. For example, Song in C, consisting of three solo parts for koto, depicts children throughout Japan playing various games at different times of the year. Traditionally, different games are associated with different seasons.

The artists use a variety of instruments including a shamisen, a three-stringed, banjo-like instrument that is plucked with an ivory plectrum. Another instrument is the shakuhachi, a five-holed, end-blown flute made of bamboo introduced into Japan from China in the eighth century.  They will also use the koto, which came from China in the seventh century with the influx of Buddhism and was part of the Imperial Court ensemble. The koto is a 13-stringed, zither-like instrument made from a thick piece of paulownia wood, which incorporates the use of bridges to tune the strings to specific pitches.

Chieko Iwazaki began her studies of the koto at the age of 10 in Kochi. She moved to Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan at the age of 18. She soon began studying the Ikuta Scool of Koto under Hayashi Kimiko and Kurabe Hanako, both renowned master teachers in Kyoto. In 1973 she started to attend the Soumei school in Kyoto and study under Mamoru Ono, one of the most important contemporary players and composers of Japanese koto music. In 1977, Iwazaki earned her teaching qualifications for both koto and shamisen.

Kuniyasu Iwazaki began the study of shakuhachi in 1978 under Fujiwara Odo in the city of Kyoto, Japan. "Kodi" earned the rank of "Shihan", Master of Shakuahchi, Kinko Guild, in 1997 and began his professional career. He has performed concerts all over Japan, as well as in New York City, San Francisco, and throughout the midwestern United States. Although he specializes in the ensemble performance called Sankyoku, he also performs and teaches traditional solo Buddhist Honkyoku.

Michael Chikuzen Gould lived in Japan from 1980 to 1997 and studied shakuhachi under renowned masters Taniguchi Yoshinobu and Yokoyama Katsuya. Gould earned recognition as a "Shihan" (master of shakuhachi) in 1987 and was given the name "Chikuzen." In 1994, he became one of only a handful of non-Japanese to hold the title of "Dai Shihan" (grand master of shakuhachi). He is the sole recipient in the U.S. of the line of transmission of the Zen music of Watazumido Roshi.

The event is co-sponsored by multiple programs at Hope, including Hope's Asian Perspective Association (HAPA) student group, the Japan Club, the Department of Music and the Cultural Affairs Committee.

Nykerk Hall of Music is located in the central Hope campus, at the former 127 E. 12th St. between College and Columbia avenues.