Tag Archives: music

JFM in 2013

Akemashite omedetou!

2013 has been an interesting and busy year for JF Manila.  Aside from the yearly events such as Nihongo Fiesta and Philippines-Japan Friendship Month, JFM also presented events to celebrate the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.

Here are the some of the events in 2013:

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“Tohoku: Through the Eyes of Japanese Photographers” Exhibit held last January 30 to March 17, 2013 at the National Museum of the Philippines.

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“Uchusentai NOIZ Concert” held last February 23, 2013 at the SM City North EDSA Sky Dome during the Nihongo Fiesta 2013.

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“Time of Mime 2” featuring Iimuro Naoki held at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) last February 27 and 28, 2013.

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Pantomime Workshop with Mr. Iimuro at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater) last March 1, 2013.

Oshaberi Salon: Let's make "Nihongo Friends Book" (May 3, 2013)

Oshaberi Salon: Let’s make “Nihongo Friends Book” (May 3, 2013)

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Filipino dancer, Mia Cabalfin during the “Eiga Sai 2013” Opening Ceremony held at The Atrium, Shangri-La Plaza Mall last July 3, 2013.

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“unit asia Concert with Noel Cabangon” at the Music Museum last July 9, 2013.

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“Ukiyo-e: Art and Tradition” Exhibit Opening at the Museo Pambata last July 17, 2013.

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Printmaking Workshop for Kids by the Printmakers Association of the Philippines (PAP) last August 3, 2013 at the Museo Pambata.

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“Iza Kaeru! Caravan” held in Marikina City from August 2 to 3, 2013.

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“Restaurant of Many Orders” by the Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project held last October 16, 2013 at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater).

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“Media/ Art Kitchen: Sensorium” Exhibit held at the Ayala Museum from November 7 to 24, 2013 featuring works such as “Mapping” by Fairuz Sulaiman (Malaysia).

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“Biya” by Manny Montelibano (Philippines)

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WSK.FM Radio at the Green Papaya Art Projects.

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Performance by Tetsuya Umeda in 413 Escolta.

Oshaberi Salon: Making your own Nihongo Christmas Card (November 22, 2013)

Oshaberi Salon: Let’s make “Nihongo Christmas Card” (November 22, 2013)

It has been a memorable year for JFM with all the new projects and collaborations.  Looking forward to more exciting events in 2014.

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Creating a New Classic

Hisashiburi-desu! Long time, no see ( new articles from me!).

Would just like to give you a peek not at the J-Classic Concert, which was a highlight of the Philippine-Japan Friendship Month celebration last July, but the J-Classic Masterclasses and Talk held at the UST Conservatory of Music.

 T. Hagiwara, R. Kataoka, A. Ishikawa, S. Aoyagi

T. Hagiwara, R. Kataoka, A. Ishikawa, S. Aoyagi

Last July 14 and 15, we were visited by four of the freshest faces of Japanese classical music – Susumu Aoyagi (piano), Takako Hagiwara (flute), Ayako Ishikawa (violin), and Risa Kataoka (koto). Their musicality and talent is already a given. What sets them apart from the others is a carefully planned strategy to project a certain image, and to appeal to a certain market. Genius brand marketing.

A commercial approach to art (artists as products) has been a problematic concept for some Filipino artists, especially to those still harboring romantic thoughts about art and culture, but it business in arts is a reality. This was the sobering truth that Mr. Hiroyuki Takashima, the 75-year old producer of this touring J-Classic production, pronounced to a young audience at the UST Conservatory of Music.

Mr. Takashima at the UST Conservatory of Music

Mr. Takashima at the UST Conservatory of Music

Aided by an interpreter, Mr. Takashima narrated his experiences as a music producer which started when vinyl was still in. His fondest memories were of bringing the Beatles into Japanese consciousness in the 60’s when American music were favorites. He recounted how he had to come up with clever promotional and publicity gimmicks– creating Beatles buzz by partnering with hairdressers and stylists to popularize the Beatles cut and fashion; engaging radio stations and their listeners by first “planting” requesters who wanted to hear Beatles music; and even producing a one-of-a-kind collectible record.

Beatles Memorabilia

Beatles Memorabilia

The Beatles' autographed photo personally given to Mr. Takashima

The Beatles' autographed photo personally given to Mr. Takashima

I wanna hold your... collectible Beatles record

I wanna hold your... collectible Beatles record

Mr. Takashima’s stories were well-appreciated as they showed the inner workings of the Japanese music industry then. I just wonder how those methods will work with today’s technology, when TV, radio and print media are no longer the channels of trends and taste. I suspect the young music students also were interested to find out how to put out their music and themselves in a tech savvy environment, but instead was treated to good old nostalgia.  

At the early part of his talk, Mr. Takashima did mention some useful advice for the young students. It worked for the J-Classic musicians, for Mr. Takashima’s stable of  talents, and for his daughter,renowned Japanese classical violinist,  Chisako Takashima.

 Mr. Takashima’s Advice to Young Musicians

  1. Practice, practice, practice. Be sure you are excellent in your craft. This can only be done by discipline and dedication.
  2. Take care of one’s appearance. That one is an excellent musician should be a given. But not all excellent musicians are successful as we all know. If one aspires to be well-known, then the musician must be attractive and healthy as well. Clear skin, a trim figure, fetching fashion sense. This is what will separate you from the rest of the pack.
  3. Get good representation ( someone like Mr. Takashima) and have a plan. Classical music is not something pop(ular) in the Philippines, but it could well be, given the talent and creativity of Filipinos. This is the wondeous feat of Mr. Takashima, when he reintroduced classical music to a younger Japanese audience. One could self-manage oneself or get a manager, what is essential is the preparation and planning for a successful classical music career. Envision what you want for yourself , plan for it, do it.

Apply these and who knows when a new Filipino classic musician will emerge. Soon?

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Koto Connections

fukuda

The koto sounds very regal, I think.  Its sound invokes an image distinctly Japanese, where every stroke is rich and rife with restrained, yet taut (tightly wound up and ready for action) expression.

Like any musical instrument, it leaves the realm of the ordinary when played on by a master. In the JFM’s case, it was a female master– rather, mistress– who showed the passionate potential of the koto. Her name is Chieko Fukuda.

Ms. Fukuda has led an accomplishment-strewn career, having been the youngest winner of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs’ Arts Festival Excellent Prize (1993), then receiving the same recognition in 1997. Her success can be attributed partly to genes — her father is Tanehiko Fukuda, the second headmaster of the Mitsunonekai, or koto-shamisen school– and mostly to her dedication to her art, which she honed since age 3. She is now the Headmaster for Mitsunonekai

Her program in Manila started at the UP College of Music where she held one-on-one coaching sessions with koto students who would like to work on their technique. We were told that it was a good time for the students as some of them were due to go through koto performance finals. Although it was unfortunate that an interpreter was present at these sessions, Ms. Fukuda and the Filipino students tried their best to hurdle language barriers and let their music communicate instead.  There were about 16 students she personally coached, most of them one after another.

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Japanese tradition is steeped with hierarchy, and the world of traditional music is not exempt. It is unmistakable who holds the reins and controls the show, observing the dynamics between student and teacher. There is none of the casual buddy-buddy air that sometimes envelops the usual teacher-student relations, probably owing to the unfamiliarness of each other’s language and personalities. When the teacher speaks, the student listens. It seemed like an alternate world, where students bit their tongue instead of speaking their minds at the least provocation. Such order and discipline is refreshing.

Ms. Fukuda also had a full performing schedule while in Manila, performing during the Embassy Night of the 4th PIJAZZ Festival at the Captain’s Bar, Mandarin Oriental (February 26), at the UP Abelardo Hall on February 27, and finally at the SM Cinema 1 on February 28 for the 2009 Nihongo Fiesta.

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While there were some uneasy shuffling during Ms. Fukuda’s set at the PIJAZZ Embassy performance (they were after all, expecting jazz), it nevertheless provided a calming intermission to the the energetic acts programmed that night.

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For her performance at the UP Abelardo Hall, Ms. Fukuda introduced a musical collaboration between koto and saxophone in a piece called “Haru no Umi”. Ms. Fukuda played the koto, while a UP Music student, Igie, played the sax.   

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All throughout her stay, Ms. Fukuda’s enthusiasm and passion for koto and traditional Japanese music always shone. That energy is enough to inspire and motivate the younger musicians , we hope. 

While Ms. Fukuda is now back in Japan, she still looks over the UP College of Music and recommended a koto artisan to repair its koto collection. Keen on promoting Japanese art and music and deepening exchanges with its partners, JFM will support the rehabilitation of the UP College of Music’s koto collection — hopefully allowing more generations of UP students to connect to Japanese culture and realize the importance of their own traditional musical traditions.

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A Night of Cello and Illumination

cello-illumination

Here is a good idea for a balmyThursday night: a free cello concert and light show.

  • When: April 16, Thursday; 7:00 – 9:00 PM
  • Where: Zen Garden, Asian Institute of Management Building (AIM), 123 Paseo de Roxas Avenue, Makati City

Mr. Herrick Ortiz of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra will play Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1”, while Mr.Roman Cruz, a lighting designer and member of the Sinag Arts Foundation, will provide the artistic lighting effects of the evening. 

Ms. Tomomi Ishiyama, the organizer, put together this event to gather a music-loving public in a relaxing environment. The night will be interesting as there will be be times when there will just be a light show, with no music. This is rather novel as we are more accustomed to having lighting as a background to whatever activity is on stage. Something to look into…

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