Episodes:

The Legacy of Western Music in Meiji Japan – Mayuko Kamio

The brilliant Japanese violinist Mayuko Kamio, a gold medalist at the International Tchaikovsky Competition, performs Johannes Brahms’ Scherzo from his F-A-E Sonata; Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane; Toshio Hosokawa’s Vertical Time Study III; Shinichiro Ikebe’s Themes from the Japanese film Catharsis, and an encore of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. This concert was recorded in 2014 in conjunction with Kiyochika: Master of the Night.

View more about this podcast »

The Legacy of Western Music in Meiji Japan – Gilles Vonsattel

Enjoy the Romantic music that so entranced Japan in the late nineteenth century with this recital by the acclaimed Swiss-born pianist Gilles Vonsattel, whose 2011 CD was named a classical album of the year by Time Out New York. Beethoven’s beloved “Moonlight” Sonata and Bagatelles are played alongside works by Liszt and Schumann. The podcast concludes with Debussy’s atmospheric Images, Books I and II, compositions that were directly inspired by Japanese prints. This concert took place in conjunction with the 2014 exhibition, Kyochika: Master of the Night.

View more about this podcast »

Music of Toru Takemitsu and Tan Dun: Ralph Van Raat, piano

In this compelling recital, Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat performs rarely heard music by the late Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu and Chinese-born composer Tan Dun. Takemitsu, well known for his film scores, made his fame as a master of the orchestral colors that he ingeniously employs in his piano works. Tan Dun’s early fame came from his innovative use of percussion, which he integrated into his music for piano. Van Raat made his East Coast debut with this Freer Gallery recital in 2014, shortly after he performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in his first North American appearance.

View more about this podcast »

The Momenta Quartet originally assembled a version ofthe program, “Modern Awakenings: New Music Inspired by Buddhism,” at the request of the Rubin Museum of Art (New York), which specializes in Tibetan Buddhist and other Himalayan art. The Quartet’s members are (left to right) Emilie-Anne Gendron, violin; Adda Kridler, violin; Stephanie Griffin, viola; and Michael Haas, cello.

Modern Awakenings: New Music Inspired by Buddhism

Composers from Malaysia, Japan, China, and the United States explore aspects of Buddhism through music written for string quartet. Formed in 2004, the adventuresome Momenta Quartet has performed often in New York at BargeMusic, Tonic, Le Poisson Rouge, The Stone, Roulette, and Symphony Space. It also serves as the quartet-in-residence at Temple University. This concert was recorded as part of the Meyer Concert Series at the Freer Gallery of Art on November 8, 2012.

View more about this podcast »

Music From Japan: Echoes of the Silk Road

Hear new and reconstructed music for an ancient West Asian harp that was preserved, along with other Silk Road treasures, at the Shoso-in, an eighth-century Japanese imperial storehouse in the temple city of Nara. Harp soloist Fuyuhiko Sasaki recreates the sound of the kugo (harp) in works commissioned for the National Theater of Japan and to commemorate the 1,200th anniversary of the city of Kyoto and honor the victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. He was joined by five other ensemble members on shakuhachi (flute), sho (mouth organ), hichiriki  (double-reeds), and haisho (panpipes). This concert was recorded at the Freer Gallery on February 22, 2012, as part of Music From Japan Festival 2012.

View more about this podcast »

Koto Meets Quartet: Yumi Kurosawa and the Lark String Quartet

Hear a gorgeous new concerto for the Japanese koto and Western string quartet by American composer Daron Hagen, who has written works for the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Kings Singers, among many others. Preceding that are two contrasting works for solo koto: a classical piece by seventeenth-century composer Kengyo Yatsuhashi and Yumi Kurosawa’s own new work for the instrument. This concert was recorded in the Freer|Sackler’s Meyer Auditorium as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on October 13, 2011.

For more on the koto and Yumi Kurosawa, mark your calendar for Look and Listen: Asian Art and Music on June 24, 2020.

View more about this podcast »

Sukeyasu Shiba’s Gagaku Universe: The Reigakusha Ensemble

Japanese composer Sukeyasu Shiba leads his Reigakusha ensemble in a performance of original and reconstructed music for the ancient royal ensemble known as gagaku. A longtime member of the gagaku orchestra for the Imperial Household Agency, Shiba composes works that revitalize a highly ritualized musical repertoire rarely heard in the West. His ensemble features biwa (lute), koto (zither), shakuhachi (flute), ryuteki (flute), sho (mouth organ), hichiriki (double-reed), and taiko (drum). This performance was part of the thirty-fifth anniversary celebration of Music From Japan, based in New York City, and marked that organization’s twelfth annual program at the Freer Gallery. Recorded in concert February 24, 2010.

View more about this podcast »

Between Tides: Chamber Music from Japan

An international quartet of musicians combines Western and Japanese instruments to perform music written during the course of the twentieth-century, from Kosaku Yamada’s “Seven Poems” (1914) to Toru Takemitsu’s “Between Tides” (1993). Masayo Ishigure has performed on koto at Lincoln Center and on John Williams’s soundtrack for the feature film “Memoirs of a Geisha.” James Wilson was a long-time cellist with the Shanghai Quartet. Pianist Kathryn Woodard served as a consultant to Yo-Yo Ma’s “Silk Road Project.” Violinist Theresa Salomon completes this outstanding ensemble.

This concert was presented on October 2, 2008, as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series, supported by the New York Community Trust–The Island Fund and numerous additional donors.

View more about this podcast »

This is one of Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, by Katsushika Hokusai (1760—1849), a series that was so popular in Japan that it eventually ran to forty-six images. Whistler was introduced to the work of Hokusai in the 1850s through a copy of Hokusai's Manga, a collection of informal prints that later gave rise to the current rage in the West for Japanese comic-novels (also called manga) and animation (anime). Manga was also Debussy's introduction to Japanese prints, first shown to him in the 1880s by sculptor Camille Claudel. He later became familiar with Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and Hiroshige's Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido. The Sazaido Hall of the Temple, Gohyakurakanji, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji; by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849); Japan, Edo period, ca. 1823-1831; woodblock print; ink and color on paper; gift of the family of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer, F1974.63

Whistler and Music: Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano

This piano performance explores the influence of American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler on the music of French composer Claude Debussy, as well as their mutual connections to Japan. Whistler borrowed the title of Frédéric Chopin’s piano nocturnes of the 1830s for his nighttime landscapes of the 1870s, which in turn inspired Debussy’s orchestral nocturnes of the 1890s. In addition, both Whistler and Debussy admired Japanese woodblock prints and incorporated them into their work.

This concert, by the young Lithuanian-born pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute, was recorded as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series at the Freer Gallery of Art on March 4, 2004.

View more about this podcast »

Contemporary Music for Japanese Instruments: Sawai Koto Ensemble

Hear the exhilarating music of the late Japanese composer Tadao Sawai and his son Hikaru Sawai, performed by this twenty-piece ensemble of traditional Japanese instruments. Kazue Sawai’s ensemble features traditional koto, bass koto, shamisen (lute), and shakuhachi (flute). They have collaborated with such composers as John Zorn, John Cage, and Sofia Gubaidulina, and appeared at Lincoln Center and the Bang on a Can Festival in New York. This performance took place in the Freer Gallerys Meyer Auditorium on May 4, 2001, and was co-sponsored by the Embassy of Japan. Recorded on March 4, 2001.

View more about this podcast »