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University of Oklahoma's Catlett Music Center hosts Japanese concert

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After a five-year hiatus, Norman's Sharp Concert Hall will once again transform into a Zen den.

Japanese instruments, like the shakuhachi, koto and shamisen, will set the ambiance for the 8 p.m. Tuesday concert inside the University of Oklahoma's Catlett Music Center.

Michael Chikuzen Gould, Chieko Iwazaki and Kuniyasu Iwazaki will perform modern and traditional Japanese ensembles, including 400-year-old shakuhachi solos, Edo-period chamber pieces, and duets arranged for koto and shakuhachi. The trio met 15 years ago and has played together in concert for more than a decade. All three members have received extensive training and studied under prominent Japanese teachers. 

Gould became a "dai shihan," grandmaster of shakuhachi, in 1994 " an impressive title held by only a handful non-Japanese musicians. Gould lived in Japan for 17 years, studying under renowned masters Taniguchi Yoshinobu and Yokoyama Katsuya.

The shakuhachi is a five-holed flute that originated in China, but was brought to Japan in the seventh century to be played at the Imperial Court. The instrument is commonly known as the Zen bamboo flute. During the medieval period, the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhists used the shakuhachi as a spiritual tool. Their songs, paced by breathing, were considered both music and meditation.

The koto is a 13- to 17-stringed, zither-like instrument made of paulownia wood that has historical roots in Buddhism. The shamisen is a three-stringed, banjo-like instrument made of Chinese oak with a neck of Indian red sandalwood. The historic instruments " whether alone or ensemble, used in traditional or modern arrangements "  create sounds that are soothing and transcendental.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students, staff, faculty and seniors. For more information, call 325-4101. "Natalie Burkey

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