Musical Magnetism

Chiba trioYuki and JudyTomoko

Still Minatures

[mouse click on a photo to enlarge it]

Tomoko Ando and Yukiko Hayashi live in Chiba City, across the bay from Tokyo, a locale that the Lonely Planet Japan guide dismisses as being of no particular interest. Perhaps not in terms of shines, temples or beautiful volcanic cones. But music has a powerful magnetism that draws across continents. Tomoko is a pianist; Yuki a violinist. Both lived several years in Atlanta, where they had joined forces with Judy to play music regularly at Northside Hospital. English horn, violin and piano is a hard combination to beat.

I dare say that all the temples of Kyoto, all the shops of Ginza and all the museums of Ueno couldn’t match the pleasure of one afternoon’s reunion in Tomoko’s living room — piano is the least portable of the three; oboe and English horn were schlepped through airport security and half-way round the world; Yuki arrived by train with violin slung across back. Two young children provide plenty of distraction for Tomoko; Yuki’s husband, sadly, has been rendered invalid by a stroke, relegating Yuki’s violin to second fiddle. But lack of practice and a two-and-a-half year hiatus in playing together only intensified the energy to get it right.

For me the pleasure was vicarious, but no less real. I participated as best I could: kept the recorder running, so that you (click on “Still Miniature” link above to download the mp3 clip) and they can relive the moment. Here’s to the three of you — bravo!

There seems to be a special bond between musicians, unfathomable to us non-musical mortals, and only to be envied. Condi, we understand, plays terrific piano; perhaps Ahmadinejad plays the oboe (it originated in Persia); was it not Saddam fiddling as Baghdad burned? If the three could only have gotten together on the William Grant Still “Miniatures”!

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