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UMS Concert Program, March 4, 1976: Soloists Of The Ensemble Nipponia -- Nihon Ongaku Shudan

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Concert: Third
Complete Series: 3986
Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The University Musical Society
Soloists of the Ensemble Nipponia
(Nihon Ongaku Shudan)
MINORU MIKI, Artistic Director
Thursday Evening, March 4, 1976, at 8:30 Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
GODANGINUTA...........Kengyo Mitsuzaki
(Five Variations on the Sounds of the Kinuta)
Keiko Nosaka (first koto) Sachiko Miyamoto (second koto)
This work was composed during the Tempo period (18301843) by Kengyo Mitsuzaki, one of most important koto musicians of the nineteenth century and a significant figure in the revitalization of koto music. Godanginuta is an excellent model of idiomatic writing for the instruments, although its form is unusual. As part of Mitsuzaki's strong interest in the older classics, the work is organized as a danmono {godan indicates five variations), but the severity of the form is mitigated by sharply articulated rhythmic patterns derived from the sound of the kinuta, a set of wooden implements traditionally used to prepare silk. In a manner that closely resembles the parody technique of Renaissance music in Europe, the fifth variation of the seventeenthcentury classic solo work Rokudan is quoted in its entirety in the fifth variation of Godanginuta. However, as the scope of the later work is much larger, this quotation comprises barely a third of the final variation of Godanginuta.
OGINOMATO (The Folding Fan as a Target) . . Satsumatype biwa music Ayako Handa (biwa)
Nearly all of the traditional biwa music is based on episodes from a series of narrative epics that describe (with considerable historical accuracy) the series of civil wars arising out of the power struggle between the Heike and Genji clans in the twelfth century. The melodic line can readily be compared with the recitative in Western music. The accompaniment is sparse and chordal. For the sake of variety, as well as to rest the voice and to display the instrumentalist's technique, there are occasional passages for the biwa alone, which tend to be quite rhythmic and dramatic, often virtuosic in their technical demands.
Both of the two main schools of biwa playing, the Satsuma and Chikuzen have representation in the Ensemble Nipponia. During this tour the Satsuma style, which is characterized by vigorous strokes and somewhat greater use of special effects, will be heard in performance of Oginomalo.
Third Concert Fifth Annual Asian Series Complete Programs 3986
(The Tendernesses of the Crane)
Kohachiro Miyata (shakuhachi)
The identity of the composer of this work is not known; nor is there any definite indication of when it was composed. Consensus places it sometime during the Edo period, a time when Japan was almost totally isolated from outside influence. During this time the shakuhachi was played primarily by wandering warriors, and by monks.
The piece expresses the tenderness and love of mother and child cranes (a bird with symbolic references). The use of unusually high notes makes it a very difficult piece, but one that is most effective. Due to the uncertain origins of the piece, performances vary considerably in length, and in the degree of agitation of the playing. Nevertheless, it is included in a rather small number of works called honkyoku, which might be translated as the ancient standard repertoire.
AZUMAJISHI (Azuma Lion Dance)......Koto Minezaki
Classic Sokyoku Ayako Handa (vocal)
Hirokazu Sugiura or Keiko Nosaka (sangen) Keiko Nosaka or Sachiko Miyamoto (koto) Kohachiro Miyata (shakuhachi)
This work was composed in the late eighteenth century by Koto Minezaki, who was one of the leading musicians of that time, and the first notable composer of jiuta, the most important traditional genre of vocal chamber music. In such pieces there are two outer sections in which the vocal chamber and instrumental parts are rather similar, with a central section in which the in?struments play without the voice. In that section, the instrumental writing tends to become more lively and virtuosic. Alhough the basic melodic line of the parts is still much the same, the decora?tion varies considerably, according to the nature of the participating instruments. In this performance, the standard trio combination of koto, sangen, and shakuhachi (in the nineteenth century sometimes replaced by the kokyu) is employed. The text of the vocal sections expresses the tender sentiments which drew many men to the Yoshiwara section (the "pleasure quarter") of Edo (Tokyo), and thus contrasts with the instrumental section which has ostinato rhythms drawn from the kinuta sounds.
HOSHUN (Ode to Spring).......Katsutoshi Nagasawa
Kohachiro Miyata (shakuhachi) Sachiko Miyamoto (koto)
About one hundred years ago, Japan's era of isolation was abruptly ended by a sudden massive influx of European culture. Japanese musicians were left adrift; their traditional type of composition and performance ceased to command interest and attention from a populace that turned more and more to European musical thinking and styles. Certain composers in the early twentieth century began the necessary effort to blend the traditional and European styles. This type of hybrid writing still has many adherents, especially among the older generation.
Mr. Nagasawa (6. 1923) is one of the most distinguished representatives of that tradition, and his music offers contrast to the more modern approaches of other Japanese composers. At present, Mr. Nagasawa serves as the Enemble Nipponia's president. Hoshun can be translated as "Ode to Spring," and much of the music is concerned with description of the resurgence of life in Spring. Since its creation in 1971, Hoshun has been performed frequently in Japan by many different performers.
HONJU (The Escaping Hand)--1974shorter version . . . Minoru Miki Hirokazu Sugiura (sangen)
The sangen is found in many genres of Japanese music, and the diverse requirements of these genres have tended to produce different forms of the instrument, adapted to special needs. The most frequent classification recognizes three types according to the thickness of the neck: thin, thick, and medium. The thickneck instruments have a rich deep sound, while the thinneck instruments are more brilliant, and are more suited for technical virtuosity. Hottju was composed by Mr. Kiki in 1974 for this latter type of instrument. In style, the piece takes as a point of departure the nagauta (the main musical element in the kabuki theatre) style of playing. The dynamics and articulation arc left largely to the discretion of the performer, in keeping with the spirit of the title, which is intended to convey the sense of a technique that is simultaneously wild, free, extravagant, and disciplined. The work was written at the request of Mr. Sugiura.
TATSUTANO KYOKU..........Minoru Miki
(The Venus in Autumn)--1971shorter version
Keiko Nosaka (20string koto)
For over a thousand years the koto had thirteen strings, and music for it was subject to that limitation. In modern times various experiments to increase the number of strings were tried. It was not until as recently as 1969 that a truly durable result was achieved; in that year the colla?boration of Minoru Miki and Keiko Nosaka resulted in the twentystring instrument. After the inevitable skepticism, the new koto has won favor with composers, who have now produced more than thirty works for it. It should be added that the entire traditional repertoire is also playable on the new instrument.
The first work written for the 20string koto was Miki's Tennyo (1969), a large solo work of a meditative character. Two more solo works followed in 1971, Saonokyoku (The Venus in Spring) and Tasulanokyoku (The Venus in Autumn). The former is an expansive adaptation of traditional form, but the latter is much more provincial in its approach. From its start, energetic figures and sharp rhythms dominate the texture. A somewhat quieter middle section explores different articulations of sonorities built on fourths and sevenths, and is followed by an altered restatement of the opening. The work is dedicated to Keiko Xosaka.
WA...............Minoru Miki
Kohachiro Miyata (shakuhachi)
Hirokazu Sugiura (sangen)
Ayako Handa (biwa)
Keiko Nosaka (20string koto)
Sachiko Miyamoto (17string bass koto)
Minoru Miki (percussion)
This composition was written in 1975 especially for the current tour of the Soloists of the Ensemble Xipponia, and is receiving its first performances.
Each sound in the Japanese language has many possible meanings, according to the context and the Chinese characters (ideograms) used in writing. Miki has indicated that the idea behind Wa is the agglomeration of the meanings associated with that sound in Japanese. These include: (1) peace, harmony, totality; (2) a circle, a ring, a link, a wheel; (3) (as an interjection) Oh! (with the sense of being surprised) ; (4) Japan.
Program notes by David Loeb.
In conjunction with their Ann Arbor concert, the Soloists of The Ensemble Nipponia held master classes for University student performers on the shamisen, koto, tsuzumi, and taiko, under the sponsorship of the Center for Japanese Studies.
The tour of the Soloists of the Ensemble Nipponia (The Nihon Ongaku Shudan) is sponsored by the Performing Arts Program of the Asia Society under a grant from Lila Acheson Wallace and under the sponsorship of the Bunkacho (Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Ministry of Education of Japan) of the Japanese Government.
Marcel Marceau, Pantomimist..........March 6
Prague Chamber Orchestra........Friday, March 19
Mozart: Symphony No. 40; Martinu: Serenade No. 2 for Two Violins and Viola;
Kalabis: Chamber Music for Strings, Op. 21; Haydn: Symphony No. 103 ("Drum Roll")
Preservation Hall Jazz Band.......Saturday, March 20
Berlin String Quartet.........Monday, March 22
Beethoven: Quartet in Eflat, Op. 74 ("The Harp"); Schubert: Quartet in A minor,
Op. 29
Detroit Symphony Orchestra........Friday, March 26
Aldo Ceccato, Conductor; The University Choral Union; Karen Altman, soprano; Beverly Wolff, contralto; Seth McCoy, tenor; Simon Estes, bass; Beethoven, Symphony No. 1 in C major; Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor ("Choral")
The Pennsylvania Ballet.....Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
March 29, 30 & 31
Waverly Consort, "Las Cantigas de Santa Maria" . . Thursday, April 1
Don Cossacks of Rostov..........Sunday, April 4
Sitara, Kathak Dancer..........Tuesday, April 6
May Festival
Four concerts -April 28, 29, 30 and May 1
The Philadelphia Orchestra Eugene Ormandy, Conductor
The Festival Chorus Aaron Copland, Guest Conductor
Andre Watts, Pianist Marilyn Horne, Soprano
Wednesday: Haydn: Symphony No. 31 ("Hornsignal") ; Leslie Bassett: "Echoes from an Invisible
World"; Weber: Invitation to the Dance; Copland: Suite from Billy the Kid; Ravel: La Valse. Thursday: Sibelius: Symphony No. 7 in C; MacDowell: Piano Concerto No. 2; Strauss: Death and
Transfiguration; Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue.
Friday: Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man, Clarinet Concerto (Anthony Gigliotti), Suite from The Tender Land (Festival Chorus); Barber: "School for Scandal" Overture; Ives: Decoration
Day; Schuman: New England Tryptich. Saturday: Beethoven: Overture to "Coriolanus"; Persichetti: Symphony No. 4; Ravel: "Shehe
razade" Song Cycle; Rossini: "Una voce poco fa" from Barbierc di Siviglia; Strauss: Rosen
kavalier Waltzes
Single concert tickets, from $4 to S12 now available.
To insure the ongoing cultural presentations of the University Musical Society in these times of increasing financial demands, a new membership organization called Encore has been formed, embracing all current contributors to the gift program (established in 1968) and reaching out to all concertgoers who wish to see these many fine performances continued. The privilege of advance notice for all events is given to Encore members, in addition to other courtesies extended throughout the year. For further information about Encore and membership categories, contact the office of the Musical Society in Burton Tower.
Burton Memorial Tower, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 Phones: 6653717, 7642538

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