Japonismes 2018 in France "Concert of Gagaku"

[Date & Venue]
January 25, 2019, 7:00pm, Maison du Japon, Cité internationale universitaire de Paris
    January 26, 2019, 8:00pm, Athene Theatre, Rueil-Malmaison

Part I:
Wagon (Japanese harp): Teiryo, Kosaibari no netori
Presentation of Gagaku instruments
Kangen(music): Hyojo no netori, Etenraku
Roei(recitation): Kashin
Presentation of Costumes
Part II:
Bugaku(dance): Ryo-o, Kanshu

[Guest Musician]
Mr. Shogo Anzai
the former chief conductor at the Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency

Kitanodai Gagaku Ensemble

[Supporting Organization]

   Under the title of “Japonismes 2018 in France: Concert of Gagaku”, a gagaku concert was held at the following venues: One on January 25 at Maison du Japon, Cité internationale universitaire de Paris and the other on January 26 at Athene Theatre, Rueil-Malmaison, located in the suburb of Paris. Both concerts were well received.

   The concerts at these two venues were designated by the Japan Foundation as part of the Japonismes 2018 events which were planned to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the Japan and France Friendship year.

   The theme of “Japonismes 2018” was “Resonation of the soul” which became the mutual concept for both countries and the various events for “Japonismes 2018” were held in and around the capitol city of Paris from June, 2018 to February, 2019. These events were focused on “the unique sense of Japanese beauty whose spirituality came from the great nature, not from the materialistic, which were characteristic of Japanese culture; “Interminglement of foreign materials and their harmony”.

   It was a major event to introduce Japanese cultures through varieties of Japanese arts such as the ancient earthenwares from Jyomon era, a gagaku concert by the Imperial Household Agency, noh and kabuki performances, Itoh Jyakuchu exhibition, Fujita Tsuguharu exhibition and a modern high-tech art exhibition.

   On this occasion, the Kitanodai Gagaku Ensemble participated to perform kangen, bugaku and roei while placing an emphasis on the gagaku instruments and costumes which have the history of one thousand and five hundred years. The Ensemble’s wish was to make gagaku easier with a variety of musicality for French people to understand and to make them acquainted with the music as well. The performance was well received by the audience.

   Especially, the performance at Rueil-Malmaison was part of an exchange program between Rueil-Malmaison city and Togane city of Chiba which are sister cities for a long time. Mr. Naoharu Shiga, former mayor of Toigane city and Mr. Rikuro Shikama, current mayor of Togane city made a great effort for this performance to happen. In France, Mr. Patrick Ollier, mayor of Rueil-Malmaison, Mr. Philippe Trotin, deputy mayor and all the staff of the city welcomed us and managed the entire concert.



   * It was a great honor and a pleasure to welcome such an elegant gagaku group to Rueil-Malmaison. We would like to plan this wonderful event again and look forward to seeing you in the future. Please convey our sincere gratitude and friendship to the people of Togane city.
   * Thank you very much for the wonderful performance. It was a great discovery for me. I simply say, it was most beautiful.
   * It was a wonderful concert. There was an explanation and a booklet for the performance and I truly enjoyed and understood gagaku more than any other concerts. Thank you again for this opportunity. I hear that the Kitanodai Gagaku Ensemble is busy performing oversea. I wish you the best of luck and success.
   * With a mural painting by Fujita Tsuguharu in the back at Masion du Japon, I listened to the elegant gagaku music in a relaxed atmosphere and watched an academic dance. Although the venue was a full of people and some of them were even standing, they were all fascinated by the sound and dance. When the performance was finished, people seem to be reluctant to leave. Though most of the audience were westerners, one young lady maybe from Southeast Asia was talking to her French friends about the dance of her native country. Another lady who has lived in Paris for 30 years was deeply moved by the fact that she could see gagaku so closely which she never experienced even in Japan. Athene Theatre in Rueil-Malmaison was a small venue, but it had a good sound and acoustic environments. Especially the lighting was fabulous and lighted up beautifully the performers’ costumes, movements and standing postures of the dancers. I was very moved.
<Kanshu> Both dancers were perfectly synchronized, and their fingers’ pliant movements were shining.
<Ryo-o> I was so impressed to see the beauty of the mask, costume and posture of the dancer who stood in the spot light, yet what surprised me most was the dancer’s light movements. The dancer moved left and right diagonally several times, yet the dancer’s feet moved so lightly that it looked as if a crane was flying up into the sky. Instead of Ryo-o’s bravery, I was attracted to his hidden beauty behind the mask.
<Women’s kimono> As for the Junihitoe (twelve- layered ceremonial kimono) of the Heian period and a modern kimono, wearers’ good postures and beautiful foot movements were very impressive.
<Tea tasting> I was moved by the preparedness of the people who were eager to serve a freshly prepared tea one by one in a beautiful tea bowl to the 200 guests. I believe that the people of Rueil-Malmaison could feel the spirit of hospitality of Japan through the event held in a small venue.

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