English Blog

Manny Ax in LA 3/30/10

April 5, 2010

Of course everybody knows how great Manny Ax is!! He is one of my favorite pianists, and he never disappoints us in any genre of music. He was in LA to play a recital, concerto, and chamber music, and I had a chance to hear his chamber music, a celebrated Schumann piano quintet.  He performed with the members of LA Phil, and he was just amazing. He is known to be a great chamber musician, and yes, he is! He plays with wonderful energy, dynamics, and expression, but never gets in the group. His playing is always transparent. He knows this piece so well that he did not need the music in many sections. So the page turner was turning pages while he was looking down the keyboard! I look forward to hearing him in near future.

a movie – Vincere 3/27/10

March 27, 2010

It is about Benito Mussolini and his first wife (or mistress), Ida Dalser and her son, Benito. Both Ida and Benito Jr. died in the mental institutions. The movie depicts the relationship between Mussolini and Ida, and the insanity grew in Ida and Benito Jr, and of course the fascism in Europe back then.

It seems more crazy and obsessed Ida became Italy’s fascism became crazier and crazier!  It is a dramatic movie with fantastic acting! During the movie I started to feel Ida’s obsession inside of myself. I am sure there have been those women in the other parts of world, and the character of  Ida can be depicts differently, but it is an Italian movie. The story is expressed strongly with the Italian way! I like this movie.

My Birthday! 3/20/10

March 21, 2010

My birthday is in March. The school system in Japan is different, and the new year starts at the beginning of April. So I was usually the youngest in the class! On the first day at the high school I was late for the school  because of the traffic difficulty, but I was forgiven by the teacher (after he scolded!) because I was youngest!

We went to “Kiwami”, one of the best Japanese restaurant in LA, last year for my birthday, and we loved it so we chose again to go there. They offer “Omakase” in “Omakase room”. It is a special course meal served by the chef in the special room! The food is wonderful, and each dish is so beautiful. Also the food is so creative. They never serve the usual items in the usual way, and they combine the unique items together. We sat in “Omakase room” for almost 3 hours to enjoy food coming one by one! We chose the original sake because it has dry and clear taste to go with food very well.

I take my lunch when I teach at Occidental College, and I usually cook at home. So it is very nice to treat myself for the special dinner! I was super satisfied and happy!

Another Trombone Recital! 3/15/10

March 21, 2010

My dear friend, Andy Malloy, had a faculty recital at California State University-Northridge, and I was his pianist to play with. We have played together for several years, and recorded his first CD including new pieces which he commissioned. The new commissioned work on this recital was Steven Williams’s Three Poems. This is a great  work we loved! Andy recites a poem before each movement, and the poem was accompanied by piano. The music and the poem go together so well, and it is very strong and effective. Congratulations, Steve! Since it was close to St. Patrick’s Day we played Nick Lane’s Hoi Polloi (2006) again. I love this work too, and I admire Nick deeply.

My Field Trip in LA! 3/10/10

March 11, 2010

Occidental College is on spring break this week, and I wanted to do something different–. I don’t have time to go out of town, but I have more free hours than usual! So I decided to do some field trips in LA. LA is so huge that there are so many things I have not done yet. Related to my Spanish study I went to El Pueblo which is the origin of Los Angeles (please see photos). It was started in 1781 under the order of King Carlos III, and Spanish governor Filipe de Neve picked the location for El Pueblo, near the current downtown LA. 44 people, 11 families, came from Mexico after 1200 miles of travel! It is very interesting that there were various racial mix, like current LA!

After visiting historical buildings and learning the history I went to the Mexican restaurant, Las Anitas, for lunch. This is a special place because the family of my Spanish teacher owns! I spent only 3 hours in El Pueblo, but it was fun and refreshing! After I left El Pueblo I went near by Little Tokyo for Japanese food shopping! It is another LA thing, multi culture! At home I did the rehearsal with the flutist before the Sashimi dinner! Happy Spring!

My Recital at Newport Beach Public Library 3/8/10

March 8, 2010

I had 3 solo recitals this spring, and I played the last one at Newport Beach Library yesterday. Newport Beach is located in Orange County, and it is more than 60 miles from my house! Los Angeles area is huge!! So it was my first visit to Newport Beach. The library is a beautiful architecture, and the auditorium is located facing to the court yard. It gives us an open feeling. I liked it! I enjoyed performing there, and it is always nice to meet the audience after the performance. I chatted with many nice people. After the recital I went to Valencia (20 miles from my house, and opposite of Newport Beach!), Cal Arts, to perform with a young and talented trombone player. He played great, and I had a good time performing with him!

Los Angeles is still pretty cold, not like usual March weather. We have had so much rain this spring, and we are still using heater!

Frederica von Stade – Master Class at Occidental College 3/8/10

March 8, 2010

I attended her master class last week at Occidental College. She presented her recital a day before. I was very impressed by her class. As you know she is a super star!!! She has appeared at major opera houses, and sang with big conductors! She is a very nice person and a great teacher. She finds something to work with each students, and accomplishes her points in short time. And she is always positive, lively, fun and creative! She connects to people. Again I enjoyed attending her class, and meeting with her.

Movie-The Ghost Writer 2/27/10

February 27, 2010

It is Roman Polansky’s new suspense movie.  It is pretty good, especially the actors and actresses have done a great job! I like Ewan McGregor’s slightly nervous, but brave writer in this movie. He was good in the movie “The Men Who Stare At Goats”, and hisrole is similar in this movie. The movie is full of beautiful scenery and twists!  The ending is not convincing to me, but the story is so twisty that we get involved deeply. Pierce Brosnan is no longer James Bond, but he is a wonderful charactor actor.

My Faculty Recital at Occidental College 2/26/10

February 26, 2010

My Faculty Recital at Occidental College

I had my annual faculty recital on Tuesday 23 at Occidental College. I repeated the program from January s performance at Clarke Library. It is always so nice to play at our own schools! And I was glad to see students and friends in the audience! I enjoy playing my current repertoire a lot, my love of Spanish and South American music, jazz-classic synthesis pieces, and Russian Romantic music and etc–. Also I am very excited to perform Bach D Minor keyboard concerto later in this spring! Well– of course it is different than this recital program, but I always love to play his music. Yes, it is Bach! To celebrate Chopin and Schumann for their centennial year I will perform cello-piano repertoire by those birthday boys in this spring as well.

It is still a big challenge for me (after so many years!!) to play an entire recital by memory, but I like to keep doing it. I remember Earl Wild once said he keeps practicing for 4 hours a day to keep his fingers moving ( unfortunately he passed away last year). I heard his recital in LA when he was in late 80s. It was a great concert! It is something we can look for in our entire lives to get better on our instruments. It will come only after we keep doing it!

Spring is approaching! Our friend Dove mama has laid her eggs already in her spring house in our backyard. She usually gives birth to 4 or 5 sets of dove babies in each spring! Have a nice weekend!

Trombone Day! 2/8/10

February 15, 2010

Congratulations for all of trombone players at “Trombone Day” at CSU-Fullerton on Saturday 6, February! It was a great day! And Big Congratulations for Prof. Bob Sanders! He is the one who has worked hard to organize this wonderful event. I believe I was only non-trombone player that day! Piano is not an ensemble instrument (we do piano duet and 4 hands!), but we can collaborate with many different musicians. The truth is we don’t have “Piano Ensemble” with 20 pianists! It is so nice to see so many of same instrumentalists get together in a good supportive spirit. It seemed like “Brotherhood” to me.

I performed with John Rojak, who is a member of American Brass Quintet, and active in NY area. He was the featured artist. I had a great time getting know him, rehearsing, and performing with him. As I said “Trombone Day” was a big success all of the activities, concerts, ensemble rehearsals, lecture, panel discussion– went so well. It was a full energy day despite of heavy rain and flood (the concert hall was heavily flooded.). I was even more honored to be at the party hosted by another great trombone player, Andy Malloy, on Sunday. Great Music, Nice People, and Lots of FUN!