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ORCHESTRA ASIA JAPAN

An update on hogaku

by Mariko Kato

Orchestra Asia Japan presents an innovative interpretation of traditional Japanese sounds on March 1 in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. Held in commemoration of the Japan-China Exchange Year of Culture and Sports 2007, the concert features a world premiere of a work by Chinese composer Tang Jian Ping.

An ensemble consisting of the Japanese members of Orchestra Asia, Orchestra Asia Japan is celebrated for its use of traditional instruments from East Asian countries. But rather than simply reproducing the nostalgic sounds of hogaku (traditional Japanese music) and gagaku (Imperial court music), the orchestra uses them as a springboard on which to create new sounds.

The first half of the concert opens with a medley of traditional Japanese masterpieces, interpreted with a “modern expression.” The genres featured are varied and dynamic, ranging from gagaku to gidayu (a narrative style that accompanies bunraku puppet theater). The colorful program will be enhanced by a morin khuur (a Mongolian instrument affectionately known as the horse-head fiddle) musician and a traditional Japanese dancer.

Tang Jian Ping, whose latest work, “Gen (The Source)” receives its first performance in the second half of the concert, is known for his fusion of orchestral sounds with folk music from remote corners of China, written for various solo instruments and classical genres.

The most recent works include a Biwa concerto, the operetta “Ten-nin,” and “Ancient Land,” a piece composed especially for Orchestra Asia.

The Orchestra Asia Japan Concert takes place at Kioi Hall, Tokyo on March 1 at 7 p.m. The venue is a 6-minute walk from Ichigaya Station on the Yurakucho, Marunouchi and Nanboku subway lines. Tickets are 4,000-5,000 yen yen (call Ticket Pia at [0570] 02-9999). Student discounts are also available from the Japan Committee of Orchestra Asia (tel. [03] 3295-6147).