2019 Gagaku Concert in Taiwan


Date: From April 10 (Wed) to April 14 (Sun), 2019
Venues: Hall at Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages (Kaohsiung)
Hall at Tainan National University of the Arts (Tainan)
National Center for Traditional Arts (Taipei)
Program for April 10, 11 and 13:
Kangen: “Sojyo no netori”, “Ryukaen”, “Ryo-o”
Bugaku: “Kanshu”, “Ryo-o”
Program for April 14:
Kangen: “Hyojo no netori”, “Etenraku”
Bugaku: “Urayasu no mai”
Special Guest: Mr. Shogo Anzai, former chief court musician at the Imperial Household Agency Music Department
Performance by: Kitanodai Gagaku Ensemble
Sponsor: Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association

   At the time when the era’s name in Japan is changing from Heisei to Reiwa, beginning in May, the Kitanodai Gagaku Ensemble’s first gagaku concert in Asia was held from April 9 to 11 in Taiwan.
   Having the invitation from the National Center for Traditional Arts (Taipei), which is part of the Ministry of Culture of the Taiwan Government, Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages in Kaohsiung and Tainan National University of the Arts, the Ensemble travelled to Taiwan to perform gagaku concerts. The program for the concerts was selected from Sojyo music to suit the spring season. On the 2nd day of the Taipei concert, which took place on April 14, the Ensemble was able to successfully collaborate with the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan to perform “etenraku”.

   The Taiwan concert began on April 10 at Wenzaou Ursuline University of Languages. The University is a private Christian university specializing in languages. Its Japanese program has over 1000 students. The concert was well advertised to its students, faculties, and locals so that about 400 people came for the concert including the president and vice president of the University and dignitaries of Kaohsiung city. The entire concert was organized and run by the faculty and students of the Japanese program at the University. Some of the attendees never heard gagaku before and were very excited by the performance. Professor Agès Roussel Shih from the University’s French Department said: “Thank you for the wonderful concert. The students who adore Japan were very impressed by the Japanese traditional arts.”

   On the 2nd day, April 11, the concert was held at Tainan National University of the Arts. The university is one of the three national arts university in Taiwan. It is a boarding school for students and faculties and is well known for its special gifted education. The concert was filled with about 200 music students and faculties. The origin of gagaku comes from China and Asian nations. Gagaku was especially influenced by the music of the Tang Dynasty of China, however, the tradition of gagaku was lost in China and Taiwan and only Japan was able to keep its valuable history. Knowing the history of gagaku, students were thrilled to watch the live performance. The concert was organized and run by Professor Te-Hwa Shih of the University who specialized in Chinese traditional music. The emcee of the concert was conducted by one of the associate professors of the University. Professor Te-Yu Shih who studied Japanese koto and was a specialist of a folk music expressed her gratitude for hosting the first gagaku performance in Tainan city and looked forward to future concerts.

   On April 12, the Ensemble members left Tainan by bus in the morning and began a 300 km journey to Taipei, the capitol city of Taiwan. Upon arrival, a rehearsal of “etenraku” was performed together with the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan at the National Center for Traditional Arts. The Orchestra, which belongs to the Ministry of Culture, is a prestigious national orchestra that has performed many joint concerts with foreign orchestras such as ones from Vietnam and South Korea. Prof. Rung-Shun Wu, who is the director of the Center and the professor at Taipei National University of the Arts, had organized the concert.
   On April 13, the first day of two days concert, only gagaku was performed at this venue and about 430 people attended. The emcee was done by Ms. Wang who was fluent in Japanese.

   On April 14, the 2nd day, about 380 people came to the concert where the Kitanodai Gagaku Ensemble collaborated with the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan (60 orchestra members) which is based at the National Center for Traditional Arts. The first part of the program began with the performance of an elegant and solemn music by Chinese traditional instruments and then the joint performance of the Orchestra and the Ensemble followed by the music arranged by a young Taiwanese musician and “etenraku”. It was a great success. Under the baton of Prof. Amy Chang of the Taipei National University of Arts, the Orchestra members’ brilliant performance created a totally new “etenraku” which was in accord with a unique gagaku rhythm of “Jo-Ha-Kyu”.

   After the performance, a post-concert reception was held and some of the attendees were Mr. Tsung-Huang Tsung, deputy minister of the Ministry of Culture of Taiwan, Mr. Chi-Ming Chen, director of the National Center for Traditional Arts and Ms. Li-Chen Liu, director of the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan. The Deputy Minister, Mr. Tsung praised by saying that today’s collaboration concert was very significant as the symbol of the arts exchange between the two nations. Mr. Cheng referred to the Orchestra’s next year’s concert in Isumi city as an event to celebrate the coming 2020 Tokyo Olympic and promised to further deepen the mutual relationship. At the end, the organizer of the concert in Taiwan presented a gift to Mr. Shogo Anzai and Mr. Yoichiro Iguchi who represented the Ensemble. Mr. Iguchi, president of the Ensemble, thanked all the people who worked hard to organize the concert and thanked the wonderful and warm hospitality given to the members of the Ensemble during their stays.

   The gagaku concerts, held four times in three cities in Taiwan, were very successful and marked the first footprint in Asia through a cultural exchange with gagaku.


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