old music made very new


New Music.

The sounds would have been new to almost everyone on the planet, even, perhaps, to most of the population of Japan, where the music originated - more than two millenia ago. Zankel Hall was the venue last night for a concert, "Reigaku and Gagaku: A Living Tradition," of traditional and modern music composed for ancient Japanese instruments. The ensemble was Reigakusha.

The entire program was spectacular, but in a very restrained, austere mode.

The visual beauties (faces, instruments, costumes, set, movement) were also compelling, and might actually have been enough of an attraction by themselves.

The performers were mostly quite young and there were more women than men. Two of the four composers represented were also very young, and two were women (amazingly, only a small portion of the evening's program was devoted to traditional pieces). If this musical tradition is timeless it's also become very, very new for reasons only partly dependent upon its exoticism.

Unfortunately this concert will not be repeated in New York (they were at the Kennedy Center in D.C. tonight and they'll be at UC Berkeley September 12), but I'll be back in line the day this company (or any similarly-inspired) announces a return engagement. Next time I'll try to give everone I know a heads-up.

Meanwhile, there are CDs (see their site linked above, or check Amazon for sound samples).

[image from Reigakusha, via the Institute of East Asian Studies]

it hurts to hear how good this was. We were out of town and missed this. Argh. At least I caught them on WNYC:


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Published on September 9, 2004 11:30 PM.

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