27/03/2014 - Hikokigumo – a concert with Japanese music
A blog by Joel

27/03/2014 - Hikokigumo – a concert with Japanese music

by Joel

At the moment, we are rehearsing several Japanese songs. Sakura and Fulusato are Classics, of course, and Hana wa saku has a beautifully melancholy tune to fit the text. I like it a lot. Our very own tour song this year is called Hikokigumo; it is the theme song of Hayao Miyazaki's newest film, Kaze Tachinu. The song is almost 40 years old; the composer, Yumi Arai, wrote it when she was only 16. “Hikokigumo” means vapour trails. It is a ballad describing a girl's ascent into heaven. Arai wrote it when a classmate died.


At the end of March we have the opportunity to listen to a Koto virtuoso, and to sing with her. We have a joint concert with Masami Morimioto at MuTh; it is a kind of dress rehearsal for our tour of Japan. Dress being the operative word: Ms Morimoto is wearing a stunning red kimono. And she is a black belt in karate! Very cool. Perhaps she can show us some moves, after the performance. The koto is a delicate instrument, it needs to be re-tuned all the time. Ms Morimoto has brought several instruments with her.


During the first half of the concert, we sing a few classical songs, then Ms Morimoto plays a solo. We start with a motet for double choir; the solo group stands at the other end of the hall, which is a nice effect. Afterwards, we sing pieces by Pergolesi, Haydn, and Schubert. Ms Morimoto plays her solo. The notes flow from her instrument.


After the intermission, we perform together. The sound of the koto transports us to Japan. There are quite a few Japanese in the audience, and the Japanese ambassador has come. By way of an encore, we sing Brahms's Lullaby, accompanied by Masami Morimoto on koto, and it sounds really cool. The audience applauds wildly; they want to hear more. And we feel ready for the tour: Japan, here we come.