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TOKYO

Choral tribute to March 11

by Chiho Iuchi

Staff Writer

Coinciding with the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tokyo Opera City will be filled with the powerful voices of Japanese choir group Ritsuyukai, featuring new Japanese choral works.

Comprising 15 amateur choirs under the direction of Japanese conductor Fumiaki Kuriyama, Ritsuyukai has often collaborated with professional orchestras. Its series of monme concerts, named after a Japanese traditional children’s song, have introduced works by contemporary Japanese composers.

“Through our choral music, I want to share the commemoration with people in various situations. We have some members from the affected areas, too,” Kuriyama says, “but we are not publicizing that.”

Instead, the choir members will appear on the stage with bow ties, scarves or score covers all made of kimono cloth recovered from the tsunami-ravaged city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture.

“It’s too simple to say that we think of the affected areas by using such items,” says Tadashi Kato, who will be directing the performance. “But after March 11, 2011, we cannot think about our artistic activities without the disasters in mind,” he says.

For the upcoming concert, the ninth in the monme series, Kuriyama commissioned new pieces from nine leading Japanese composers, including Shinichiro Ikebe, Akira Nishimura and Teruaki Suzuki.

Among the highlights is the choir suite “Koi, Kou, Koe (Love, Beg, Voice),” comprising five songs by five different composers, with lyrics by Kato. They all start with the phrase, “What are you doing when you look at the stars?” The suite will be performed by 125 students from Chiba, Utsunomiya and Keio universities.

“Featuring the sound of Japanese lyrics, each song will convey messages without the need for translation,” Kuriyama says. “And these new songs will move us forward.”

The “Ku-monme no Kuriyama Fumiaki” concert takes place March 11 at 7 p.m. at Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall in Shinjuku Ward. Tickets cost ¥1,500 -¥4,000. For more information, call (03) 3985-5356 or visit www. www4.ocn.ne.jp/~k-ritsu/