English Blog

A Movie “Knives Out” 12/18/19

December 18, 2019

Are you looking for a good holiday movie? This is the one to watch.  I love this kind of humor and twisty wit. It is so perfect. Do you like “mystery” ? Do you like “comedy”? It is a parody of Agatha Christie, but it is very sophisticated. It is not just a parody. When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his huge estate just after his 85th birthday, the Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. No one knows who hired him! Everyone in Harlan’s family has a motive to kill him. So the audience keeps guessing! I can’t tell you the whole story. An amazing cast and story! You don’t want miss this movie. Knives Out is a very stylish and entertaining movie.

A Movie “Citizen K” 12/7/19

December 7, 2019

What do we believe? It is up to us. I don’t want to discuss about any politics. I was born in Japan, and will die as a Japanese wherever I will be. And I feel very lucky in that position. The enigmatic case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once believed to be the wealthiest man – amass a fortune in financing and oil production – and former oligarch in Russia, is this movie’s theme. Khodorkovsky turned political dissident for the anti-Putin movement. Actually he served a decade in prison. Today, as an exile living in London, he continues to speak out against Putin’s two-decade power.

Norton Simon Museum “By Day & by Night: Paris in the Belle Époque” exhibition 11/29/19

November 29, 2019

I attended the lecture and the exhibition at Norton Simon Museum. This museum is 15 minutes from my house by car, and it is so nice to enjoy their beautiful garden as well as the museum. LA offers a lot to do, including a famous traffic war!, and museums are ones of great assets in this city. By Day & by Night portraits the innovative spirit of art and culture in Paris during the belle époque, from the end of the Franco-Prussian war in 1871 to the outbreak of World War II in 1914,  through a selection of paintings, drawings, prints and photographs. It was an era characterized by economic prosperity, and technological and scientific innovations. In this period, the arts flourished, especially in Paris. Many masterpieces of literature, music, theater, and visual arts gained acknowledgement. Several friends of mine, who go to this museum often, think this is one of the best exhibitions at Norton Simon. As a musician myself this period is very fascinating. Many (yes, so many!!) fantastic music was written and played in Paris. I was imagining Stravinsky’s 3 ballet music and the music of Debussy and Ravel. while strolling the exhibition.

A Movie “Pain and Glory” 10/31/19

October 31, 2019

It is a fantastic movie. Human being is vulnerable and precious. How wonderful we are! It is a biographic (not a true story) movie of a celebrated director, Pedro Almodóvar. He wrote and directed this movie. Every so often in “Pain and Glory, ”Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), a film director in his physical decline, closes his eyes and drifts away. He’s gravely depressed, and his body has so much trouble. The story goes back and forth between the reality, and his past, his childhood in 60s, his adult love in Madrid in 80s, and breakups and his mother’s recent death. His only therapy is to write. But he can’t function. It is difficult of separating from one’s own life and about the passions that give it meaning and hope. Actually the passion is holding ourselves together. In recovering his past and addiction, Salvador finds the way to reconnect to himself again and to create his passion for his salvation.



Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K. 271, “Jeunehomme” 10/15/2019

October 15, 2019

I have been practicing and polishing Mozart’s concerto No. 9, which is one of the first master works by Mozart, for the opening concert of 2019-2020 3rd@1st concert series. I have been trying to play with perky and transparent sound, and with true finger legato. It is not easy. It requires a great care for balance between hands and sensitive finger tip touch. But how fun it is to play this master work! This concerto has an unique nickname “Jeunehomme” because it has been said to have been written for a somewhat mysterious French pianist, Mlle. Jeunehomme!! In a letter to his father after finishing the piece, Mozart referred to it as having been written for someone named “Jenomy” and his father referred to her as “Madame Genomai.” Early in the twentieth century, two French scholars—unable to find further information about her—decided that the name was Mozart’s misspelling of Jeunehomme and that she must have been a traveling virtuoso—yet one of whom no one had ever heard. This name was copied uncritically throughout most of the century. And after so many years, we were OK to call it without a true meaning! But in 2003 Michael Lorenz, a Viennese musicologist, discovered the answer to this unique mystery:

—-Mozart clearly met the pianist in question on Salzburg in 1777 when he wrote the Concerto for her. The following year, from Paris, he wrote to his father about meeting with the choreography Jean Georges Noverre, with whom he was planning a ballet, adding “Madame Jenomé is here as well.” The title “Madame” indicates that “Jenomé” is the lady’s married name (so she was not Mademoiselle Jeunehomme). She was in fact Noverre’s daughter, named Louise Victoire, a fine amateur pianist. In 1768 she married Joseph Jenamy, a wealthy merchant in Vienna. So instead of having found inspiration for his breakout work in the person of a completely unknown traveling virtuoso, Mozart found it within the family of a professional colleague with whom he proposed collaborating.—–

Now I don’t need to feel too bad about my imperfect English spellings and grammars!

This concerto offers a great range of emotions and technique. Certainly Louise Viotoire was a virtuoso pianist to handle all of difficulties! The second movement reminds me the concept of “word-painting”. In this movement Mozart shows his genius mind to portray emotions which relates to his opera composer life. The finale is a rondo movement, but not a usual one. It has a lengthy minuet and 3 cadenzas with some alternatives.

This concerto will be paired with Mozart’s Requiem, combining 4 choirs. Admission is always free at 3rd@1st concerts so that all may attend. The details will be found at www.thirdatfirst.org.


2019-2020 3rd@1st Season 9/16/2019

September 16, 2019

2019-2020 season will make our concert series for 6th season! This year’s offerings run the gamut: from Mozart to Jazz, from Paris to Broadway. Featuring my musician friends and visiting artists from the community and beyond, the concerts are presented in the inspiring surroundings of the beautiful First United Methodist Church of Pasadena’s historic building.

I would like to specially comment on our newly restored Steinway 9ft piano. George Ashikyan, a wonderful piano technician and a friend of us, worked on the piano during the summer. The piano got a new Steinway action and many details worked on. It is so beautiful. The touch is fantastic and the sound is amazing, especially in the acoustic in the sanctuary. You will enjoy hearing the piano in this season.

Please go to www.thirdatfirst.org for more information. The opening concert will be on Saturday October 19 at 7:30pm with Mozart Piano Concerto no. 9 and Requiem. Please note that the opening concert starts at 7:30pm, but other concert will remain at our regularar concert time as 4pm.

Happy Fall! I look forward to seeing you at concerts.

Movie “Honeyland” 8/26/19

August 26, 2019

It is a sad and heartbreaking documentary movie, but shows a dignity, sublimity, and tenderness in human’s life. Hatidze Muratova is apparently the last of Macedonia’s nomadic beekeepers, who uses an ancient method. This movie does not tell us too much. It gives us moment to imagine, feel and think. We hear constantly bees’ buzzing and see a beautiful nature in mountains. Hatidze sticks her bare hands into natural stone nests and sing old folk songs to her buzzing swarms. She sings so beautifully. So innocent! Joy and Happiness.. Her face is weathered and weepy living in nature. But her eyes are always so bright and curious. She takes care of her half-blind 86-year-old mother. They chat like any other mother-daughter does. Their small house has no electricity, no water. The mother talks about Hatidze’s marriage possibility. She laments that her daughter has become a burden to her.. But she goes on.

When Hussein Sam, his wife, and their seven kids drive into Muratova’s neck of the woods with a herd of their cattle, the life of solitude and peace is changed. Hatidze was wondering at first, but she starts to enjoy their accompany. She accepts them. She plays with kids, she teaches Sam a beekeeping business and they start to share their lives together. She always stresses to Sam that she only takes half of the honey that’s produced by each hive, as that ensures the bees will survive and be able to produce more later. That sustained harmony is more valuable to Muratova than the extra few Euro she could earn by taking every drop of honey. That is what she has been doing all her life. That is what she believes. But Hussein has 7 kids and 2 adults to feed. He struggles. He breaks a harmony… He is desperate. So you know what comes next. But Hatidze never loses dignity. And she never forgets to enjoy her life even when she does not have almost anything. I could not stand quickly after the movie was over. I felt very heavy in my mind. I fully recommend this movie.




An Animation Movie ” Mirai” 8/26/19

August 26, 2019

4-year-old boy, named Kun, feels forgotten by his parents when his little sister Mirai (It means “future” in Japanese) arrives. Kun-chan (Little Kun) thought his little sister is stealing all of attention from his family. He feels neglected. His world is different.. Mirai is cute and everybody pays attention to her. As his mother returns to work, and his father struggles to run the household (he works at home as an architect), Kun-chan becomes increasingly jealous of baby Mirai at every moment.  Even the family dog, Yukko, feels neglected. One day he storms off into their magical garden, where he encounters strange guests from the past and future — including his sister Mirai, as a teenager. Together, Kun-chan and a teenage Mirai go on a journey through time and space, uncovering their family’s incredible stories. A magical garden serves as a time-traveler. For instance Kun-chan meets with his mother as a child. Through those adventures Kun-chan will grow up and opens a new perspective on his world.

It is a beautiful and imaginative animation movie. Surely you will enjoy it too. As a Japanese pianist I often use a song from Japanese animation movies for my encore at the concerts and the audience always give me a wonderful feedback. I am sure you will cry during this movie. I watched “Mirai” on one of flights this summer, and I cried too.

Movie “The White Crow” 6/29/19

June 29, 2019

THE WHITE CROW was inspired by the book “Rudolf Nureyev: The Life” by Julie Kavanaugh. The drama focuses on the iconic dancer’s famed defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop him. Rudolf Nureyev was a superstar/sacred monster who changed the very nature of ballet, especially the roles of the male dancers. Acclaimed dancer Oleg Ivenko, who never acted before this movie,  stars as Nureyev, alongside Adèle Exarchopoulos as Clara Saint, and Fiennes as Russian ballet coach Alexander Pushkin. Nureyev’s highly dramatic, unexpected story was brought in this movie. I saw the movie about Freddy Mercury “Bohemian Rhapsody” and it is very interesting to find out Mercury and Nureyev share similar personalities. Sadly both died young with AIDS. “The White Crow” is an entertaining movie, but it shows “human” in a genius artist’s mind, even though he had a big ego and was self-centered. He was a true artist.

How Can I Keep from Singing? by Robert Lowry 6/9/19

June 9, 2019

My life flows on in endless song;

Above earth’s lamentation,
I hear the sweet, though far off hymn

That hails a new creation;
Through all the tumult and the strife

I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—

How can I keep from singing?
What though my joys and comforts die?

The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What though the darkness round me close?

Songs in the night He giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm

While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,

How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;

I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,

Since first I learned to love it,
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am His—

How can I keep from singing?