Hideko Amano & Jonathan Yates | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Hideko Amano & Jonathan Yates 

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HIDEKO AMANO & JONATHAN YATES

This recital, organized by the Japan America Society of Chicago, commemorates the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and its unusual program features two compositions by Hikari Oe, son of left-wing Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe. Hikari, now in his mid-30s, was born with part of his brain outside his skull, and though surgery saved his life, it left him severely impaired--epileptic and autistic, with a vocabulary that has never exceeded a few words. But he was tutored privately at the piano, and his teachers, recognizing his talent, taught him to notate music. Kenzaburo has painstakingly chronicled his son's development in his own writing: he's said that Hikari's early compositions shine "like dew on the grass," and that his later pieces carry in their naive and charming tunes "a mass of dark sorrow." Though Hikari's work would probably never have reached an international audience if he hadn't had a Nobel-prize-winning father--some Japanese critics, in fact, have adopted the phrase "Hikari music" as an epithet--his two pieces on this bill, August Capriccio and Hiroshima Requiem, are nonetheless genuinely touching, their simple chord progressions animated with strong melodies reminiscent of Mozart. Both will be performed on flute and piano by two up-and-comers on the local scene. Flutist Hideko Amano, born in Hiroshima in 1971, played with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra in 1989 and '90 and later studied in Paris with Mathieu Dufour, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's brand-new principal. She shares the French preference for airy elegance and meticulous melodic phrasing, qualities suited not only to Oe's compositions (she's played the requiem before) but also to her solo turn at this recital, Debussy's Syrinx, and to Poulenc's Sonata for Flute and Piano. Her partner will be Jonathan Yates, grandson of former congressman Sidney, a promising all-around musician still in his 20s. He's already performed and conducted all over Europe, and now serves as rehearsal conductor with the CYSO. His solo will be Mozart's Sonata no. 10 in C Major. Thursday, August 5, 6 PM, ballroom, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 112 S. Michigan; 312-263-3049. TED SHEN

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