Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kyoto - 3 concert reports

Some photos from last weekend, where I attended 2 concerts in Kyoto City on Friday, and then had my own concert with Hiro Minamizawa in Ayabe City, north Kyoto Prefecture...

Echoes of the Ganga
The first concert was Tim Hoffman's Echoes of the Ganga Tour tour, bringing together talented musicians from Varanasi and Allahabad with various traditional Japanese musicians around the country. The Kyoto concert was held in a lecture room at Shuchiin University, a Buddhist university in south Kyoto. The collaborative part of this concert involved a little dabbling by the Indian musicians (especially the sarangi player) while the monks did their chanting. I believe other concerts in the tour worked with "renowned artists of shamisen, biwa, shakuhachi" in other concerts - I hope the collaborations were more successful in those events. Anyhow, it was nice to see the boys from Varanasi - I know Amit and Sandeep personally - and to listen to some Indian classical vocal music.

Echoes of the Ganga Tour with Shuchiin University Monks.
Stage: From L to R: Amit Mishra (tabla), Rishi Mishra (vocal), Sandeep Mishra (sarangi), T. M. Hoffman (shakuhachi), Sakiko Hoffman (tamboura).

Vidyadhar Prasad Mishra (vocal) performing at Shuchiin University.

Concert Tour from Varanasi
From the afternoon concert, Hiro Minamizawa, his student Chie and I went to an evening concert by Shrabani Choudhury, sitar guru of Hiro and Chie. The concert was held in an art gallery in north-central Kyoto, with a nice garden behind the stage. Most Indian classical events in Kyoto (and many other parts of the country) are held in such traditional Japanese buildings. The atmosphere is very suitable for meditative Indian classical music.

So, 2 concerts in the same city on the same day, featuring musicians from the same city! How about Japan, hey? If you take a look at my Japan events page, you'll see that there's some Indian music somewhere in the country almost every day.

Shrikant Mishra ("Toon-ji Maharaj" - pakhawaj) listens to an especially beautiful alap in Raag Poorvi Dhanashri by Smt. Shrabani Chaudhuri (sitar) in their "Concert Tour from Varanasi" Kyoto concert.

Ayabe, Kyoto countryside
Thanks very much to Hiro Minamizawa for hosting me these few days! The next morning we headed off to Ayabe in the north of Kyoto Prefecture. The weather was lovely for driving. We stopped off at the Ayabe Onsen where we spent about 90 minutes washing and soaking in a variety of natural hot spring baths including a nice outdoor bath with fabulous view, a pungent brown medicinal bath with a bag of herbs floating in it and a refreshing cold tub. Oh what a feeling!

View on the drive to Ayabe

View from near Ayabe Onsen (more pics on the onsen's website)

Shen (tabla) and Yasuhiro Minamizawa (sitar) performing at Ohgiya Kaikotei in Ayabe

Indian classical music is great. Everyone has their own individual flavour, and Minamizawa-san's flavour is very special indeed. So simple yet so emotional. He just plays the raga and goes deep into the mood of that raga. When playing with someone like that, I can forget any thoughts of what to play, and just play. The response from the audience gave some insight into what is special about Hiro Minamizawa. Two women both described visions they had while listening to the music, both involving nature spirits. Another young woman just couldn't stop smiling all night, and kept telling me "honto ni tasuketa" - "your music really really helped me". Afterwards I heard that her best friend had died 2 days earlier.


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