2022 Gagaku Concerts in Switzerland and Paris
-Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Public Interest Corporation Authorization-
The Gagaku performances that lasted for about two weeks and were scheduled at six venues in four cities across Paris and Switzerland ended with great success. It is entirely thanks to the support of the local organizers, such as the Embassy of Japan in Switzerland, the Swiss-Japanese Society, the University of Zurich, and the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris. We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to the Japan World Exposition Commemorative Fund, the Sakae Stünzi Foundation, and the many organizations and individuals who have provided financial support for this project.
In addition, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Mr. Shogo Anzai and Mr. Osamu Hinata, who accompanied us on this tour making special appearances, performing wonderful flute performances and songs respectively, and impressing the European audience.
Since Covid-19 restrictions were completely lifted in both Switzerland and Paris, and there was no obligation to wear masks, all the performance venues were almost full. Many people were going out in the cities, which were returning to the bustling state they were in before the Corona pandemic.
In Switzerland, these were the first Gagaku performances in about half a century since the Gagaku of the Imperial Household Agency of Japan performed in Zurich in 1970. Mr. Herbert Haag (The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon), president of the Swiss-Japanese Society, the host organization, couldn't hide his joy, saying, "I've been waiting for this day for a long time. I'm overwhelmed with emotion."
Our performances in Geneva and Paris were hosted by Dr. Ado Huygens (President of the International Federation of Daseinsanalyse) from Belgium. Dressed in the kariginu of the Heian period, Dr. Huygens expressed an elegant and contemplative world.
Sept 22 (Thu) - University of Zurich – Gagaku Workshop - 18:00
About 130 citizens, including students leading the times, gathered in a large classroom to hear a commentary given by Professor Hans Thomsen (The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette), who specializes in East Asian art history. At this workshop, not only were there Gagaku performances, but participants were also introduced to musical instruments, experienced wearing twelve-layered ceremonial kimonos, and took part in a Q&A session. The professor said, "Thank you very much for this wonderful event! I was able to witness a wonderful performance. It was a great opportunity to convey the splendor of Gagaku to many more people! The students complimented me and said that they were surprised that they didn't know such a tradition existed in Japan.”
Sept 23 (Fri) - Music Academy Conservatory Zurich – Starts at 19:30
On the next day, Friday, September 23rd, approximately 250 people, including local intellectuals and Japanese residents, gathered at the Zurich Conservatory. We performed all genres of gagaku, including Kayo, Kangen, and Bugaku. After the vocalist Osamu Hinata sang "Etenraku Imayo" and "Kimigayo," the applause did not stop. In fact, it was so popular that in response to the encore an additional performance of "Kojo no Tsuki" was performed.
Mr. Haag, President of Swiss-Japanese Society, expressed his gratitude by saying, "I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for realizing such a wonderful, delicate, beautiful, perfect, and high-quality performance. The audience was very satisfied with the high level of artistry and elegance of Gagaku."
Sept 24 (Sat) - Multipurpose Hall at the Embassy of Japan in Switzerland,
Bern - Gagaku workshop starts at 18:00
On Saturday, September 24th, we moved from Zurich to the capital, Bern. The workshop was held at the multipurpose hall of the Embassy of Japan. Mr. and Mrs. Shiraishi Kojiro, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Switzerland, along with about 50 people interested in Japanese culture attended, and it was a great success.
Sept 26 (Mon) - Frank Martin Hall in Geneva - Starts at 20:00
click for enlargement
On Monday, September 26th, our concert was held at the Frank Martin Hall in Geneva. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Beat Frey, President of the Association Suisse-Japon section Suisse Romande, and all the association's board members, the first Gagaku performance in Geneva was realized. The venue was filled with nearly 300 participants, including Ms. Takako Tsujisaka, Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva, Mr. Kitamura, Consul General of Japan in Geneva, and other invited intellectuals with a strong interest in Gagaku.
Sept 30 (Fri) - The House of Culture of Japan in Paris - Starts at 20:00
Oct 1 (Sat) - The House of Culture of Japan in Paris – Starts at 16:00
After traveling the long distance from Switzerland to Paris by bus, on September 30th and October 1st, we performed at the main hall of the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris, which is an important base for disseminating Japanese culture in Paris. Considering how much Parisians are known to love art, and even though the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, many theaters and concert halls in Paris seemed to be empty. However, the level of interest in our performance was high, and Mr. Goro Shirasaki, Deputy Director of the business division, enthusiastically said that it was epoch-making that the number of visitors on both days was close to the seating capacity. (There were 185 visitors on the first day, and 238 visitors on the second day. The total was 423.)
Mr. Hitoshi Suzuki, President of the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris, Ms. Azumi Takarada, First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in France, local intellectuals, people involved in the arts and media, Josuikai Paris Branch of Hitotsubashi University, European Branch of Tsuda College, and many Japanese residents participated in the events.
Pesident Mr. Suzuki said, "Both days the venue was almost full, and I was surprised to see so many French spectators. Mr. Jacques Aschenbroich, former CEO of Valeo, who is a member of the administrative committee of the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris, and his wife also came and seemed to enjoy the performance.”
We received comments from the audience such as, "The performance was like a beautiful journey into Japanese spirituality. The grace, the delicacy, it was amazing!", "The soothing melody was meditative.", “We were invited to a distant world, and felt fantastic emotions born from the fascinating music full of exoticism.”
While widely introducing Gagaku, which has a tradition of over 1,000 years, to the rest of the world, this project aims to disseminate the messages of "respect for nature," "understanding of other cultures," and "prayers for peace" that are inherent in this art form. Many local people and even Japanese people living in Europe must have been impressed by the spirituality of Gagaku that has been around for over a thousand years and is still alive today. Through these events, it was a great honor and pleasure for all the members of the ensemble to play a part in the SDGs philosophy (Sustainable Development Goals) recommended by the United Nations.
Introduction of gagaku instruments
Kangen Music: Hyojyo no netori, Etenraku, Bairo
Bugaku Dance: Manzairaku, Ryo-o, Urayasuno mai
Gagaku Songs: Etenraku-Imayo and Kimigayo
Performance by Kitanodai Gagaku Ensemble
Special guests : Japanese Flutes by Mr. Shogo Anzai,
former chief court musician at the Imperial Household Agency
Song by Mr. Osamu Hinata (Vocalist)
Co-sponsors : The Embassy of Japan in Switzerland
University of Zurich
The House of Culture of Japan in Paris
Supported by : The Japan World Exposition 1970 Commemorative Fund
The Sakae Stünzi Foundation