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Concert Report: Spring Kammerraku

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Music 102

Concert Report: Spring Kammerraku

On April 17, 2016, at approximately 4pm, I attended a series of chamber music concerts at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York City. This concert series included music from the traditions of Europe and Japan in which they titled, Spring Kammerraku. The concert presented original music composed by the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers, Claude Debussy, and an original composition from James Nyoraku Schlefer. The performances were executed wonderfully by the Arianna String Quartet: John McGrosso and Julia Sakharova, violins; Joanna Mendoza, viola; Kurt Baldwin, cello. As well as by Yumi Kurosawa, Koto; Yoko Reikano Kimura, Shamisen and Voice, and James Nyoraku Schlefer, Shakuhachi.

In the first hour of the performance, the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers presented 5 compositions written by 5 talented students, who performed excellently along with both classical and the Japanese instruments. Throughout each composition, a series of program music was embedded throughout the whole concert. Each performer presented their piece, while describing a story which ultimately created a beautiful orchestration. Many musical elements were used throughout the series of compositions. Elements such as intensity and emotion. Techniques such as Rubato, orchestration and exaggeration were heavily embedded throughout the pieces which gave a sort of romantic era theme. Tone poems was one the main themes which allowed more flexibility of the development throughout each piece.

In the last hour of the concert series, James Nyoraku Schlefer’s, Dream Corner, was performed using both the string quartet and Japanese Sankyoku. It was an 11 section piece following poetry of a story of two lovers separated by dream and reality. It opened with a text description telling the story of a couple very much in love. They meet while they slumber and have wonderful moments together, but at the same time knowing they can only be together in their dreams. “Overture”, is the first section as it opens with the Shakuhachi playing alone, introducing the story that will follow along. The second section was titled, “Couple in Love”, which opened with the cello and Koto playing together giving a romantic mood while in a moderate tempo. The third section was the song in which all instruments played together. A short solo introduction from the shamisen following with vocals from the same artist, Kimura, tells a poem from one of the lovers in the story:

Thinking about you, I slept,

Only to have you appear before me.

Had I known it was but a dream,

I would have never awakened.

This lovely poem was slowly sung in Japanese as the music flowed perfectly with the lyrics and was true to the mood of a person in love. But it soon gradually progressed into a forte dynamic and into section 4, the “Dance”. Each instrument played strongly and fast to what I imagined was a passionate dance between

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