Her music is as lovely as a song sung by a pretty bird. Of course, birds don’t actually “sing,” and neither does Kimiko Wakiyama. Like a bird, she whistles. In fact she’s a champion whistler, who won the women’s crown at the 2007 International Whistlers Convention (IWC 2007) in North Carolina.
On the heels of her recently released debut album, “The Whistling Paradise” (April 23, Victor Entertainment), Wakiyama will perform her specialty repertoire at a concert in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on June 25.
Wakiyama, age 35, can whistle across a range of three octaves, which means almost all vocal music is within her scope. The tunes on her CD cover a wide range of popular standards from Japan and other countries. These include “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” the jazz standard “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Ueo Muite Arukou (Sukiyaki),” “The Whistler and His Dog” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” She will be accompanied by Natsuki Kido on guitar; Kumiko Takara on marimba and percussion; and Hirohiko Otsubo on bass and ukulele.
Guest performers will be the duo Taro Kuchibue as well as Takumi Gima, the teenage boys’ champion at IWC 2007.
Wakiyama, who comes from Fukuoka, majored in vocal music and piano at university, then got a job teaching piano after she graduated. She occasionally gives whistling performances to her own piano accompaniment, as well as providing backup accompaniment at concerts by popular singers.
In April 2007, she traveled to Louisburg, North Carolina, and challenged whistling contestants from around the world at IWC 2007. Playing Debussy’s “Arabesque” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” Wakiyama led a strong showing by the Japanese whistling contingent.
Next month, the 35th annual International Whistlers Convention (whistlers.jp/federation) will be held in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, from July 18-21, but Wakiyama will not compete.
Wakiyama was featured in the The Japan Times on June 17, 2007.
The June 25 concert will take place at Duo Music Exchange, a 10-minute walk from JR Shibuya Station. The venue opens at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7. Tickets are ¥5,000. For reservations, call Lawson Ticket at (0570) 084-003. (L code 75632) For more information, call Tomorrow House Inc. at (03) 5456-9155.
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