Music across borders

KATHMANDU: To celebrate the golden jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Nepal, the embassy of Japan is organising a music concert titled ‘Hogaku: Japanese Traditional Music Today’ on September 3 at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza, according to a Japanese embassy press statement.

Over the last 15 years, the Japanese music world has seen musicians drawing on their favourite musical grammars to crate music that transcends boundaries and borders. This is the music that will be heard during the concert.

Three artistes from Japan have arrived for the concert.

Koto, which is an essential part of music played during New Year celebrations, is a six-feet long instrument usually having 13 strings, but 17, 21, 25, and 30-string examples are also seen. The tightly stretched strings, which are balanced on separate bridges set in place on the body of the instrument, are plucked using picks on three fingers. Ai Kajigano will be playing the koto which she learnt through encouragement from her mother. A known name in Japan, she performs in public as solo player and with koto ensembles called Soemon and Radentai.

Shakuhachi, to be played by Hiromu Motonaga, is an instrument known for the strong exhalation which accompanies its characteristic sound. It is a popular instrument around the world, but was originally a tool used in a monk’s training in a certain Buddhist sect. It is a thick bamboo flute with a standard length of about 55 cm. There are only five finger holes, but it is possible to produce almost any musical scale through the angle of the mouth.

Montonaga is a musician who has mastered ‘Sankyoku Gasso’ or the trio ensemble style of performance and welcomes collaboration with other musicians from different backgrounds.

Shô is used in Japanese court music and dates back to over 1,000 years. Shô is made up of a group of 17 slender bamboo pipes with reeds gathered together in one bundle.

It makes a sound like an organ. Naoyuki Manabe, who will be playing the shô, is a composer who creates many commissioned pieces for ensembles of the shô and the violin and double bass.

Three Nepali musicians — Shyam Sharan Nepali on sarangi player, Babu Raja Maharjan on tabala player, and Raman Maharjan on bansuri player will perform together with

the Japanese artistes including improvised songs by the musicians.

The concert starts at 5:30 pm.