Japan meets Europe: Koto

By Bryson Torgovitsky

Yumi Kurosawa’s koto performance was not at all what I had anticipated. Then again, I did expect it to be unlike anything I had ever heard or seen before, so I suppose my expectation was to be surprised! Kurosawa-san’s skills are undeniable. Not only could she play classic Japanese songs on her koto, she added her own unique spin to the art by meshing it with classic European music.

In what I believe was Kurosawa-san’s third piece, she played a tune that I recognized, but I could not remember its name for the life of me! Afterwards, she informed the audience that she had played Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” If Kurosawa-san had not told us the original composer, I would have thought that she had played a Japanese piece. She was that adept at transferring a European piece into her style! That meshing of cultures reminds me of what we are doing in Japanese Plus, and it was amazing to see on stage.

At the end of her performance, Kurosawa-san played an original piece of hers. It felt simultaneously calm and energetic; something that I have found in much of my favorite Japanese music. She added that this piece, as well as several other of her original compositions, would be available for purchase next month. I hope that I can buy them, even though I am in the US!

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