Hogaku & Orchestra
Hogaku and Orchestra = exceptional composers uniting the distinctive sounds of traditional Japanese instruments with the musical language of the orchestra.
Japanese and Western music traditions are profoundly different, yet compatible, with both requiring decades of training in the pursuit of technique, exactitude and elusive perfection. While Western music uses harmony, traditional Japanese music doesn’t. Scale patterns are diatonic vs. pentatonic. Tone color, dynamics, and pitch range diverge. But, when an accomplished composer breaks new boundaries, the resulting music brings a captivating concept to the classical canon and builds repertoire for the virtuoso performers of tomorrow.
The Age of Air by James Matheson. A Kyo-Shin-An Arts commission, co-commissioned by River Oaks Chamber Orchestra.
A concerto for two shakuhachi and chamber orchestra by James Matheson. Commissioned by Kyo-Shin-An Arts with the support of ROCO, The Age of Air is a 15-minutes in duration with two shakuhachi soloists and an orchestration of double winds, French horns, trumpet, trombone, pitched percussion and strings. The work showcases Matheson’s signature mix of energy, excitement and craft in a work that releases the steampunk-inspired, restlessly whirring energy of the orchestra. The Age of Air premiered November 14, 2015 with Akihito Obama and James nyoraku Schlefer soloists and maestro Edwin Outwater.
The first KSA chamber orchestra commission was to American composer Daron Hagen for a koto concerto with strings, single winds, horns and marimba. This romantic work, Koto Concerto: “Genji”, premiered in the UK with Orchestra of the Swan on May 28, 2011, with Yumi Kurosawa as koto soloist. The venue was the Stratford Civic Hall in Stratford-upon Avon. Also on the program was the European premiere of Concerto for Shakuhachi by James Nyoraku Schlefer and the World premiere of Haru No Umi Redux, a version of Michiyo Miyagi's famous duet for shakuhachi and koto with string orchestra, as composed by Mr. Schlefer. This concert was recorded and released on MSR classics in June 2012. Titled Spring Sounds Spring Seas, the disc has received significant critical acclaim.
KSA returned to Orchestra of the Swan on May 31, 2013 with two more World premieres, Shakuhachi Concerto by Paul Moravec (Pulitzer Prize 2004), a three movement concerto with string orchestra; and Concertante by James Nyoraku Schlefer, a work in concerto grosso style featuring a solo quartet of shakuhachi, koto, violin and cello. The soloists were James Nyoraku Schlefer, shakuhachi; Mieko Miyazaki, koto; David Le Page, violin; and Nick Stringfellow, cello. Ms. Miyazaki currently resides in Paris, France, and Mr. Le Page and Mr. Stringfellow are the principal players of Orchestra of the Swan. The American premiere of Concertante was performed on June 27, 2015 at the Round Top International Festival in Round Top, TX. The soloists were Mr. Schlefer, shakuhachi; Yoko Reikano Kimura, koto; Erica Kiesewetter, violin; and Stephen Balderton, cello; with Maestro Perry So.