The Hichiriki is an instrument that resembles a human voice; and like a voice, its sound can be manipulated freely and smoothly. The seventh installment of Hitomi Nakamura’s Hichiriki recital series, “Reed Wind,” themed around the Hichiriki and the voice, featured five pieces of music including premiers of two commissioned works.
Program components showcased the broad appeal of the Hichiriki through the different approaches shown in each piece. These included “Paraphrase after the Ancient Japanese Court Songs,” a Hichiriki solo piece composed by Kikuko Masumoto; the Haruna Miyake composition “The Change of Time,” a combination of Hichiriki and sung poems from ancient poetry anthology The Manyoshu; the premier of Kazutomo Yamamoto’s work “Swaying Catabasis,” a piece exploring the unique sound of the Hichiriki through the extensive use of special playing techniques; and “Somakusha,” a classical piece with a powerful and dignified timbre. The performance ended with the premier of a piece by Kumiko Takahashi, a delightful musical rendering of the famous Chinese legend “Journey to the West” featuring Sho, Hichiriki, Ryuteki with narrative and musical flourishes. It was performed entirely by the three Sho, Hichiriki and Ryuteki performers, who also took turns lending their voices to the story and playing an array of percussion instruments.
Hitomi Nakamura’s co-performers were Kanako Nakamura (Ryuteki, other), Hanako Nakamura (Sho, other), Eri Suzuki (Hichiriki, other) and Yoshie Kunimoto (Hichiriki, other).
Nakamura learnt Gagaku while still a student at Tokyo University of the Arts.
She chiefly performs classical works and contemporary pieces on the Hichiriki. In order to cultivate the appeal of Hichiriki as a solo instrument, many Hichiriki solo pieces and ensemble compositions have been commissioned for/premiered at her recitals and are included on Nakamura’s CDs “Hichiriki Kaleidoscope” and “The Voice of Koka.” On many occasions she has also appeared with other artists, playing a variety of Japanese and Western musical instruments, participating in narrative performance, dance, etc. She is a member of Gagaku ensemble Reigakusha. She is also involved in the small-scale Gagaku unit, Gagaku Samadhi Nakamura-sanchi. In 2010 Nakamura won the Matsuo Performing Arts New Artist Award. She is a part-time lecturer at Kunitachi College of Music.
Suginami Koukaidou Small Hall, Suginami City, Tokyo