Today: Michelle Smith Performing Arts CLOSED

UMD Koto Ensemble and Washington Toho Koto Society: Springtime in Japan

Sunday, April 28, 2013
Dekelboum Concert Hall

blossoms in the springtimeDirector Kyoko Okomoto

The UM Koto Ensemble and the Washington Toho Koto Society join together under the direction of Kyoko Okamoto to present a program entitled Springtime in Japan. Featured works will evoke the chirping of birds, the blooming of cherry blossoms, and the vibrancy of springtime in Japan. These images are embodied by the quiet beauty and rustic simplicity of the thirteen-string, six-foot-long koto, accompanied  by the shakuhachi, an end-blown bamboo flute, and the shamisen, a three-string, banjo-like instrument. The koto, a stringed instrument similar to the harp, is the national instrument of Japan. The origins of the koto date back to the 5th century, and the instrument is used widely in traditional Japanese as well as Western jazz and art music today.

Learn more about the ancient Japanese art of koto playing through these films, recordings, books, and scores held by the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library:

  • Films featuring koto players performing traditional Japanese music, including a recording of the 2001 recital of the Washington Toho Koto Society and the UM Koto Ensemble
  • Recordings of works for koto with various ensembles, including a recording of selections by the Washington Toho Koto Society
  • Scores of pieces composed for koto
  • Books about the art of playing the koto and the history of the ancient instrument

Streaming Audio:

 Listen to an excerpt from the most famous piece in the koto repertoire, Rokudan no Shirabe, composed by Yatsuhashi Kengyo in 1644.