Kawasaki, Japan – Friday January 9, 2009

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After being spoiled by several days of very mild weather, it was raining here all day, though there was just enough letup for me to do a power walk around the upscale residential neighborhoods near the Showa Academy this morning.  The homes are all very tidy and have well-cared-for gardens.

 

All has gone well in the sessions this week.  I never cease to be amazed at the high performance level of the students.  Every time I return for the two weeks of work I am able to hear repertoire that is unfamiliar to me.  This week I have been very impressed by the following pieces:

 

I CHING by Per Norgaard – for a fairly large multi-perc console, with a wonderful 4th movement that has waves of sound very reminiscent of the drum set solos of Fritz Hauser

 

PORTALS by Bruce Hamilton – for pre-recorded CD and a fairly large multi-perc setup.  The interplay of sounds between acoustic and electronic is very cool – ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime.  Synchronizing with the CD is a significant challenge, but worth the effort. It was interesting, to me at least, that the student who played it discovered it by surfing on YouTube.

 

PAGANINI PERSONAL by Toshi Ichiyanagi (pub. by Schott) – based on the well known theme used by Rachmaninoff, this moderately difficult 2-mallet marimba piece with piano accomp. ought to be standard.

 

After the sessions tomorrow (Saturday), I will have reached the half-way point in my Showa residency.  If there is time on Sunday, I will probably take the train to Asakusa in Tokyo – about a 2-hour trip – to visit the Komaki Music Drum Shop and also the traditional Japanese taiko drum shops.  Almost every time I have been in Tokyo since 1976, I have made this pilgrimage.  It is always interesting and I always find something new.

 

My Showa residency goes until January 17.  If there is time, more reports will follow.

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