The Japan Foundation and the Embassy of Japan present

The Concert of Japanese Koto & Flute
by Mr.Hiroshi Matsushima, Ms.Noriko Tsuboi and Ms.Keiko Suzuki

Date: September 7 (Friday),2007
Venue: Hotel Nikko Royal Lake Yangon (Ball Room)

Refreshments will be served after the concert.

Please contact the Embassy of Japan (Information & Culture Section: (tel)1-549644-8)

for complimentary tickets, maximum two per person.

The Concert of Japanese Koto & Flute

by the Japan Foundation & the Embassy of Japan

September 7 & 8, 2007


Mr. Hiroshi Matsushima, began playing the flute in 1988 and attained a B. A. degree from Musashino Music Academy in Tokyo in 1995. He joined the Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO) in 1994, playing in concerts tours through Asia and the USA until 1995. He also studied in Munich at the Richard-Stauss-Concervatory from 1996 to 1998, and played with the Hof and the Munich Symphony Orchestras, while attending the Masterclass with Jean-Pierre Rampal in 1997. In 1998, he attended the Mozarteum College of Music in Salzburg , Austria as a guest student. He attained his Master degree in Music (M.M) in 2002, by studying Flute and Chamber Music at Musikhochshule Karlsruhe , Germany . Mr. Matsushima, who won 2 nd Prize at a local flute competition also performed as a Piccoloist at the Philharmonia of the Nations in 1999, and was a Semi-finalist at the 2 nd International Flute Competition “Leonardo De Lorenzo” in Vaggiano , Italy . In 2002, Mr. Matsushima joined the College of Music , Mahidol University in Bangkok , Thailand as a fulltime faculty. He performed a Solo Recital in Bangkok in 2003 and became “Artist” at the Faculty of Flute at SAYOWE in 2003. In 2005, Mr. Matsushima became the Principal Flute player with the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra.
Ms. Noriko Tsuboi , began studying Koto at the age of eight. She was awarded with a Lecturer's certificate by the Sawai Koto Academy in 1987 and completed the NHK (Japanese National Broadcasting Company) School for Performers of Traditional Japanese Instruments. She performed at many concerts, made recordings and participated in tours in the United States and Canada . Ms. Tsuboi does not limit herself to Japanese traditional music only but collaborates with musicians of other geners, performing improvisational music at an outdoor theater. In 1992, she was invited by the University of California as a Koto instructor where her devotion to teaching impressed many people and her Koto classes were very well received. She has also directed student Koto ensemble, held solo recitals and concerts in collaboration with various musicians in California . She returned to Japan in 1998 and continued performing various types of music collaborating with jazz bands, string and brass bands contemporary dancers and Japanese popular singers, appearing in music CDs released in Japan and United States . She also toured the Central and South America under the Performance Abroad Program sponsored by the Japan Foundation. She has resided in Bangkok since 2001, while pursuing possibilities of unlimited musical activities in Thailand .
Ms. Keiko Suzuki, started playing the piano at the age of six and learned theory of music and singing since high school. After she graduated from Waseda University she taught piano at Yamaha Music School for children. Ms. Suzuki has also studied Koto since her 20s with Mr. Shigeru Kubo, a student of Michio Miyagi. Since1993, she has resided in Bangkok , where she teaches and performs both piano and Koto.








1•  Fantasy on Theme from Kojo-no-Tsuki / Rentaro Taki (1879-1903)

Poem on Hamachidori / Ryutaro Hirota (1892-1952)

Flute: Hiroshi Matsushima

Koto: Keiko Suzuki

17-string koto: Noriko Tsuboi

The two pieces were composed so as to be played by flute and piano on the motif of very well-known Japanese tunes. At this concert they are specially arranged for koto, and the two kotos play the part of the piano.

2•  Aka e (Toward Red) / Hikaru Sawai (1964- )

Flute: Hiroshi Matsushima

Koto: Noriko Tsuboi

“Aka” is a color of the painted inside of Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute). While played it will flow down from the fingers of a player, fill the air and make the minds full. Then koto will automatically start to send a sound as if blending with the “Aka” ….

3•  Three Paraphrases / Tadao Sawai (1938-1997)      

Koto 1: Keiko Suzuki

Koto 2: Noriko Tsuboi

The first paraphrase is the suite songs, taking the motif from classical accompanying tunes of the songs. The second one is the tune composed of five parts, the arrangement based on ancient sound and rhythm. Lastly the third one shows various kinds of “pick” techniques of koto.




4•  Haru no Umi ( Spring at the Sea ) / Michio Miyagi (1894-1985)

Flute: Hiroshi Matsushima

Koto: Keiko Suzuki

This is the best-loved piece composed by Miyagi in 1929, who was renowned as a koto player as well as a composer. This work is in ternary form (A-B-A): A (Andante) describes the seagulls playing on the waves; B (Allegro) a gay sea song and the joy of spring.


5•  Midnight Rain / Elizabeth Falconer

Koto 1: Keiko Suzuki

Koto 2: Noriko Tsuboi

Growing up in lush rainy Oregon , I feel a very close affinity with the sound of rain . The expressive sound of koto has long been used for portraying nature, including various types of water sounds and movements . In keeping with this tradition, I employed light shifting rhythmical patterns and percussive techniques in this piece to evoke the sound of raindrops as they fell on the roof late one night .

Elizabeth Falconer, koto master from the Sawai Koto Academy , began her koto studies in 1979. After twelve years of studies in Japan , she returned to the States to teach and perform . She plays contemporary, improvisational pieces and also combines storytelling with music in her original program of Koto Tales

6•  Dokeshi (Clown) / Tadao Sawai (1938-1997)     

Flute: Hiroshi Matsushima

Koto: Keiko Suzuki

17-string koto: Noriko Tsuboi

In this piece a gorgeous development of rhythm appears first, but in the middle flows a decadent and sad melody. It is there I catch a glimpse of myself unexpectedly, the place where a clown lives…


[About Koto]

Koto is one of the most popular Japanese traditional musical instruments. To many, the character of koto music is evocative of traditional Japan with the attributes of the western harp, dulcimer and lute. The music ranges from the simplicity of the traditional to the melodic as well as challenging contemporary pieces.

The koto is a long, hollow instrument, about six feet (180 cm) long and 14 inches (25 cm) wide, made from paulownia wood, often called Empress Tree (kiri) . The shape of the koto is said to resemble that of the dragon, and the names of various parts of the koto correspond to various parts of the dragon. There are 13 strings stretched lengthwise over movable bridges, called ji , and tied at each end of the body. They were originally made from silk, but nowadays nylon or tetlon is commonly used. The strings are tuned according to the placement of the bridges. During performance the bridges can also be moved for different tunings. For the player, it is challenging because each piece that is played needs to have the bridges set to the right tuning; it is appealing because of the wide variety of tunings that can be created. This is one aspect that has helped to keep the instrument alive and well; the ability to adjust to various musical and cultural settings across time and place.

The modern 13- string koto originates from the gakuso of Japanese court music . In 16 th century, Kenjun (1547-1636) , a Buddhist priest who lived in Northern Kyushu , began to compose for the instrument, calling the original style " Tsukushi " after the region . Yatsuhashi Kengyo (1614-1685) , a gifted blind musician from Kyoto , learned from Kenjun and transformed the limited repertoire by adding new techniques, making new tunings, and writing new compositions . His most well - known composition, " Rokudan no Shirabe " ( Study in Six Steps ) remains the most well - known and often played classical koto piece today . It was during the Edo period (1603-1867) that the koto developed from an exclusive court instrument into a uniquely Japanese instrument with a voice all its own, with its own indelible sound that has become an intricate part of Japanese art and culture .

Western music was introduced in Japan at the beginning of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). The blind composer, innovator and performer Michio Miyagi (1894-1956) was the first Japanese composer to combine, with great creative inspiration, western and traditional koto music . He not only wrote over 300 new works for the instrument, he invented the very popular 17- string bass koto, created new playing techniques, expanded traditional forms, and in general restored popularity to the genre with his charismatic and down - to - earth personality . Since that time, composers such as Tadao Sawai (1937-1997) have furthered Miyagi' s vision by continuing to compose and perform works that continue to stretch the instrument in new directions . Because of the integrity, creativity and determination of some very talented musicians and the devotion and dedication of their students, the thousand - year old Japanese koto is still as vibrantly alive and appealing as ever .

[Sawai Sokyoku-in ( Sawai Koto Academy of Music)]

Sawai Sookyoku-in, in Tokyo was founded in 1965 by the late composer and kotoist Tadao Sawai and his wife Kazue Sawai, and is now directed by their son Hikaru Sawai. Both modern and traditional Ikuta-style koto and Jiuta-style sangen are taught in the School.

The Sawais have been instrumental in bringing recognition to the koto as something more than simply a traditional instrument. They perform and teach koto with the concept that it is versatile and many-faceted. The school is noted for its openness to new types of music, innovative playing techniques, and a variety of sounds. This philosophy is reflected in the dynamic performances and diverse compositions of Tadao and Hikaru Sawai.

Miyagi-sha ( Miyagi Koto School )

Michio Miyagi, who was blind by the age of 8, introduced Western musical elements into Japanese music and was a pioneer in the musical world of modern age. This “father of modern Japanese music”, who had a great influence on the following generations, was very active in a variety of undertakings.

Students of Michio Miyagi in Japan and abroad founded Miyagi-sha in 1951. The mission of the members is to disseminate Miyagi style koto music, and also to become the leaders of inheritance of Japanese traditional music.