English Blog

Brand Library Concert 4/20/09

April 20, 2009

I really enjoyed performing at Brand Library yesterday. It was a part of their Music Series. The recital hall is located as a part of this historic library building in the beautiful park up on Glendale Hills. I often see people take wedding photos there!

My program was my on-going “A World Journey on the Keyboard”, including Piazzolla, Granados, Ginastera, Sakamoto, Barber, and Poulenc. I change composers from one recital to the others, but the concept of this theme recital stays, my favorite composers and their stories. I love to talk to the audience about the fun and interesting anecdotes on composers, and pieces between playing. Blair is a wonderful music librarian there, and organizes this music series. Thank you for having me yesterday!! I already received a nice email comment about my recital. Also my dear friend, Nick Lane, a great composer/a fantastic trombone player, wrote me an email from his tour with Chicago. He is a trombone player in this BIG BAND!! He really loved my new CD, and gave me wonderful comments. Thank you!! He listened my CD with his band friends on the tour!

Jon Lewis, an excellent trumpet player, who is another wonderful musician friend of mine, dropped by my house today for our concert in Dallas in June. New stack of music is on my piano!! It will be a great concert. I will post the information in Concert section in this website. Please check!

I will perform beautiful piano pieces by Toru Takemitsu this weekend for Takemitsu Festival in Pasadea, CA. One piece will be with video. There will be a great discussion about his music besides concerts. I guess I have to get back to my piano.

Andras Schiff Concert 4/7/09

April 7, 2009

It was a great experience to hear Schiff’s 3 last Beethoven Sonatas in the Disney Concert Hall last Wednesday 4/1. He played Ops. 109, 110, and 111 without intermission. Even he did not take a long break between each sonata. I never thought about playing those pieces as a set, but it created a whole new world! With the fabulous acoustic in the Disney Concert Hall Schiff’s sound was transparent, crystal clear, and truthful. With Schiff’s creative and thoughtful mind those late sonatas sounded as if they were written yesterday. To me Schiff’s music is always very fresh and playful . I would imagine he could be a great improviser! After he released the last note in Op. 111 he came back to the reality.

Martha Argerich Concert 3/14/09

March 14, 2009

She has been living in my heart for many years, and I was very lucky to hear her playing this week in LA. She has canceled last 2 engagements in LA! The last time I heard her was in Houston about 10 years ago. She performed Ravel Concerto with LA Philharmonic. This piece has been her signature piece for many years, and it still sounded very fresh. Oh— she is an amazing pianist ever! Her beautiful sound, interesting and thoughtful voicing, power, personality, her fast passages are so crystal clear, seductive slow movement—I am moved.

I grew up listening 3 big pianists, Argerich, Pollini, and Ashkenazy. My music friends and I often discussed how great they are outside of practice rooms in Toho conservatory. I can’t remeber how many times I listened Pollini’s Chopin Etudes. I am sure I was not the only one. Unfortunately Ashkenazy has been retired from piano playing because of his arthritis. And here comes Argerich! She plays as powerful as the pianist I remember. She looks exactly the same as I remember with little bit of gray hair now.

I truly think we were lucky to have those 3 big pianits for our goal in piano when we were growing up. This week reminds me of my student era!! Now I practice with fresh mind!

Spring in LA 3/10/09

March 10, 2009

I have been so busy performing and teaching so I have not been able to up-date my homepage. And I got sick! As you see in concert information I am playing many concerts in this spring. I am very happy to get these many opportunities 🙂 I started to play piano when I was 3 years old. and I am still playing after so many years! Is’nt it amazing!! And I discover new things everyday in pieces I practice. And I am reminded very often how important the basic practice is, like slow patient practice with rhythmic variations. When we don’t have much time to practice actually it is good to stick with basic practice!

Last 2 weeks I performed all Mendelssohn program with my husband, David, to celebrate Mendelssohn’s 200th year! Oh! those 2 sonatas for cello and piano are great pieces to play and listen if the pianist practiced! Yes, they are very demanding piano parts! I think I managed OK to reach the point I could enjoy. We will repeat 2 more times on this program in later this month. Next 2 weeks will be concerts of trombone music with 2 trombone players, Alex (Tomasi/concerto) and Andy (all new music).

Ken asked me how he will get my CDs. You can get my newest CD “Cancion para piano” at CDBaby. If you would like to have other CDs including trio CDs please write to me and mail it to PO box address in Contact.

New Semester at Occidental College! 1/28/09

January 28, 2009

I started to teach at the Occidental College last week. I have 15 wonderful students in my piano studio this semester. It is very rewarding for me to teach at this wonderful school. Some of my students are really advanced playing Schumann Concerto, Rachmaninov Preludes, Liszt “Un sospiro”— which is very exciting. On the other hand some are not advanced yet, but they are very enthusiastic to learn and to observe all kind of aspect in music. That is great to teach at liberal arts school. My educations are all in music schools majoring piano performance starting Art High School in Tokyo, and finishing doctorate at Rice University. It is so different at Occidental College. The students try many different areas, and decide what they would like to continue for their career. Some students take “a study abroad program” to go to different countries for a semester or a year. They have great experience in this program. One of my students, Lisa, was in Japan under this program few years ago, when I had a Japan concert tour. So I invited her to come to my concert in Tokyo!! We had an exciting time!! I try to keep a good balance between teaching and performing (and of course haveing fun!!) .

Friendship! 1/20/09

January 27, 2009

I attended Los Angeles Philharmonic’s party last Sunday. It was for musicians and supporters. So after some chat with friends my husband and I sat down at the table with several people. It was completely random! We started to introduce ourselves and to chat over a wonderful food! The nice couple sitting next to me was the board member of the Occidental College where I teach piano!! What a coincident! So I made new friends!!

San Francisco Symphoty is in town for their tour now, and my husband and I went to hear their concert and to see our old friend, Tom, last night! We had a great time! He plays viola and we lived in Houston, TX, at the same time. We chatted over several drinks. We left from the bar almost 1am!!

Sumo! 1/15/09

January 15, 2009

Hi!

I am a BIG sumo fan, and January is one of 6 tournaments in a year. Each Sumo tournament lasts 15 days so today is the 6th day in this January Basho (tournament). Each match can be very short, like few seconds, but it has a DRAMA!! I know most of Rikishis (wrestlers), faces and characters! I try to comment and analyze for each match! I have been following Sumos for many years, and now we can watch them on Japan TV outside of Japan!! Isn’t that great!! I put my big energy to watch through the matches everyday for 15 days.

Windy Days in LA 1/14/09

January 14, 2009

We are having a very dry and windy weather because we are having desert strong winds called “Santa Ana”. It gets below 10% humidity in some days with “Santa Ana”, then we get the warning of wild fire. Usually it gets hot as well so we are in 80s in January!

I rehearsed with my friend cellist, Ben, this morning. He is preparing for his concert in Texas. We played Mendelssohn variations, Bach Gamba Sonata #2, and Brahms F major Sonata. He is a fantastic player, and we had a great time playing together. We will continue on Saturday.

It is a Mendelssohn’s celebration year so I am playing some of his great music including Sonatas for cello and piano. He was an excellent pianist so his chamber music contains flushy piano part! Last night our music friends were chatting in our kitchen and I confessed that I am going to play Mendelssohn’s 2 cello sonatas on one concert for 3 occasions. One of them warned me getting hands injury. I said ” no problem!” We will see–!

Have a nice day!

Junko

1st letter from LA 1/12/09

January 12, 2009

Hi!

Happy New Year! I hope your 2009 is going wonderfully.

We had a cold weather from Christmas to New Year, but it has been a Blue sky with 70-80 degrees. It is beautiful to feel the outside air and sun!

I have many exciting concerts opportunities in LA this spring-summer. Please check my concert schedule. I love to play my solo recitals as well as chamber music with great musicians. I am lucky to have these performances! To be able to manage all kinds of concerts my days are planned with practice. My late cat, Justin, was always sitting with me on the piano bench when I practiced. He went to Neko (cat) Heaven last spring. Now I have his brother, Jester (Japanese Name-Gonta, Nick Name-Gonchan) , who does not care about my music life much. He loves to play with me! So I excuse myself from practice to play with him. He is a very good cat!

One of my hobbies is to watch Sumo on Japan TV. Sumo Tournaments are held 6 times a year in odd months. It is time to watch their 2nd day in this January basho(tournament).

I will write to you soon!

Warm regards, Junko