KVT in tune with AUN J and the Japan Foundation
About five years ago a group of 8 Japanese musicians decided to fuse their traditional instruments into an orchestra and AUN J was born. Now they’re a world famous World Music ensemble and when not performing solo, the eight are persuaded to perform as the AUN J combo.
This year Hanoi was on their agenda, thanks to our really wonderful, local Japanese Foundation and a major sponsor, Idemitsu, and we got the last concert in their ONE ASIA Joint Concert tour…Joint Concert because in each locality they joined up with some locals who were experts on their particular traditional instruments but who had the versatility to dive into all sorts of musical genres.
It would have been a once in a lifetime blast to have been at Angkor Wat at a World Heritage Concert event when the Orchestra and musicians from Cambodia, Indonesia, a boy band from Thailand, and two Vietnamese talents played a sixteen set concert to a crowd that would have ended up enthusiastically bouncing along to the beat.
Last Thursday night a packed house at The Youth Theater ended up doing just that.
We saw the founding members of the orchestra, twins and very versatile percussionists, flute and banjo players Kohei and Ryohei and their physically engaging cymbalist Hide at a thumping concert at the same venue in 2011 and there was no way I was going to miss out on a good seat for this year’s event.
The orchestra started off the concert with an exposition of their instruments playing original, contemporary music as seen in this You Tube clip.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iuy2bHmaYrs
The third piece was a fabulous version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal the World’ that, even if we are familiar with the 30 year old lyrics, could be equated with the world’s best known canon…. Pachelbel’s
By this time the crowd was totally engrossed with the players, their instruments and their energy as we realized that world music, anywhere, probably didn’t get better than this.
To give the orchestra a breather, the twins gave us their world famous dueling banjos (Chuzao Samisen) routine that had them playing a duel to the death on the same instrument and that had the kids behind me rolling in the aisles.
When they gave us an outstanding interpretation of Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ I thought that my night was complete… but they got even better and before the famous Vietnamese component of Ngo Tra My and Nguyen Thanh Thuy came on stage with their electrified Dan Bau and Dan Tran strings, the audience was besotted with ‘Oriental Journey’ as seen on the clip below from another concert.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLcfwLrqOmA
The Vietnamese players floated us bewitchingly through a traditional Vietnamese tune and then were joined by Azumi Yamano and Shin Ichikawa on their Japanese harps (Koto). Gradually the other players, in their ONE ASIA touring outfits, joined in for some truly memorable, feet tapping, heart popping music with which to end the night.
The last tune, the anthemic ‘One Asia’ was so brilliant that it had to be encored before the ensemble got a full house standing ovation
All members of AUN J are exceptionally talented musicians. The Inoue twin brothers were members of the Ondekoza drumming troupe for 18 years and have performed at Carnegie Hall.
Percussionist, Narimonoshi Hide, has been a renowned soloist since 2004…and boy can he cartwheel!
The Shakuhachi or Bamboo flute player, Hideki Ishigaki is considered a Living Japanese Treasure and looks far too young, too dashing, and far too energetic to be so revered.
Flautist, Micheko Yamada, on her bamboo Shinobue plays like a breath of cherry blossomed wafted air and is exotically talented
Female harpist, Yamano, is performer and soloist with international orchestras while her offsider, the extremely boyish looking Ichikawa is a multi prize winner
The swoon material for a lot of the female audience was tall and frock coat wearing Hideki Onoue on his Chuzao Shamisen. An exceptionally dapper young man with a taste for an exceptional beat.
Once again the Japan Foundation gave us a taste of their best Japanese talent…..and once again the world’s best… for free. Luckily I managed to buy a CD of the orchestra’s music before they all disappeared and it’s been a constant listening experience all weekend.
|Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.|