Music / Concert Previews


Tokyo Summer Festival, 2006: "Songs of the Earth/Music in the Streets"

by Michael Pronko

When & Where: The 22nd Tokyo Summer Festival, Songs of the Earth/Music in the Streets, with a concert or event nearly every evening till Aug. 5. Venues range from the acoustic perfection of Opera City and Kioi Hall to the picnicking and promenading vibe of Yoyogi Park.

Crowd: Yes, you can be sure of that, but it’ll be crowds of tuxedos one night, yukata the next. Since each evening’s event is in a different place, and ticket prices are affordable, expect an eclectic mix.

Big names: Gilles Apap’s classical-meets-klezmer, bluegrass and Gypsy music will be a fascinating evening. More traditional classical can be found at the hands of violinist Ivry Gitlis, cellist Mario Brunello and much-loved Japanese pianist Michie Koyama. Takeshita Kazuhira sings a unique style of Japanese folk music accompanied by shamisen. Youssou N’Dour’s exhilarating Senegalese music is an unforgettable live experience.

Take a chance on: Black Blanc Beu’s French break dancing, avant-garde French composer Betsy Jolas, an experimental sound-dance-visual installation at Uplink Factory, Shahram Nazeri’s Kurdish-epic folk singing, the ever-fascinating Satoko Fujii Orchestra (a young koto quartet), flamenco, neo-Noh theater, and good old Mozart. Did I leave anything out?

For nostalgics: Well, given that Kurdish folk-singing goes back to A.D. 1000, Noh theater to around 1300, koto and shamisen styles formed by the 17th century, and Vivaldi composed in the mid-18th, nostalgics should find plenty to sate them. It’s always nice to have every century covered.

Inside track: Call ahead for tickets. Many of the halls are mid-size and tickets can go fast. The festival Web site, with clear introductions and easy links in Japanese and English, should win a prize for helpful design:

Damage: Free to 7,500 yen — every night’s different.

Getting there: The Web site provides at least one map, and often several, for nearly every evening’s performance. Couldn’t be easier.

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