Duo YUMENO, my duo with koto/shamisen performer Yoko Reikano Kimura, had a fruitful week-long residency at the University of Hawaii between April 3 and 10. Of course, being in Hawaii, both the weather and the natural surroundings were beautiful, but the warmth and the kindness of the people really touched us throughout the trip.
The residency included two recitals. The first included works by the faculty members of U of H – Donald Womack‘s A Glinting Edge of Sky, Thomas Osborne‘s Circles of Light (with Christopher Yohmei Blasdel on shakuhachi) and Takuma Itoh‘s But Beautiful (newly commissioned work by the duo). We also included two solo pieces – Kin’ichi Nakanoshima’s Mittsu no Dansho for koto and Sayaka Ishiguro’s Genka Triptych for cello. Naturally, each ensemble pieces had distinct flavors, but they all had similar traits as well. We were moved by their delicate colors and moods that perfectly balance the characteristics of the cello and the koto.
For the second recital, we performed five world premier duos for koto and cello by five composer students of U of H. The program included; James Finamore’s Byodo-In, Thomas Goedecke‘s Turtle and Crane, Tyler Ono’s The Heart’s Uncertainty, Lim Jae-Hyun’s Buzzy, Busy…, Switchy! and Andrew Filson‘s From the Mist, I Emerge. We were very honored to have talented composers write such adventurous and heartfelt pieces for us. It was the first time for all composers to write music for a non-Western instrument, and their dedication was apparent through their music.
Between the two recitals, we had a chance to work with the student composers and exchanged ideas. It was a great learning experience for us because we had to examine fundamental questions about our music making. How can we use our instruments to effectively convey our thoughts and emotions through music? What approach should Western classical composer take when composing for traditional Japanese instruments such as the koto? In any case, we sincerely hope that this is just the beginning for these young composers to write music for groups like us and looking forward to hearing more new works from them.
Yoko and I would like to thank Donald Womack, Thomas Osborne and Takuma Itoh for inviting us to Hawaii and giving us the pleasure to have this invaluable experience. We will surely treasure this memory for many years to come.