Concert of Japanese Music | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Concert of Japanese Music 

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Despite the increasing Japanese presence in the city, the music of Japan is still rarely performed--and, no, I'm not counting the peppy drivel that passes for Japanese music in karaoke bars. This recital, organized by the consulate general of Japan, offers a timely introduction. Featured are five certified virtuosos of traditional instruments: Hozan Yamamoto plays the shakuhachi, a vertical bamboo flute; Yuriko Makise and Masateru Ando are masters of the koto, a 13-stringed relative of the zither; Hidetaro Honjo is a specialist of the sangen, a banjolike instrument with three strings; and Roetsu Tosha is well known as a Kabuki musician playing on the kotsutsumi, a double-headed hand drum. Four of the six numbers they will perform--in various groupings--are by Michio Miyagi (1894-1956), one of Japan's most beloved modern composers. A folk-music scholar and a developer of new kotos, the blind Miyagi was like a combination Ravi Shankar and Stephen Foster. Many of his pieces are for a koto ensemble--another of his innovations--and the best of them cast simple, lovely Japanese folk melodies in quasi-European molds. Admission is free. Saturday, 1:30-2:30 PM, Fullerton Hall, Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan and Adams; 280-0430.

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