Adelaide, Adelaide Fringe 2014

Koto Music Concert: ‘Floating World of Timelessness’

0 Comments 11 March 2014

Koto Music Concert: ‘Floating World of Timelessness’

 Reviewed by Alex Sutcliffe

As the name suggests, Floating World of Timelessness aims to evoke a feeling of serenity. This emphasis on the transcendent value of the music makes it a fitting concert for a Fringe audience who may be unfamiliar with the koto’s style. Even if they are initiates of this world the sounds  will always be interesting and sometimes peculiar. At once peaceful and powerful, Floating World of Timelessness proves deeply evocative.

Performances are given by two koto players: Etsuko Kawaguchi and Teiko Kikuchi. Each plays a variation of the koto, a Japanese stringed instrument. Kawaguchi plays the 13-stringed koto, Kikuchi the 17-stringed bass koto. Both play captivatingly. Their duet on the closing piece is especially memorable. This final piece is a kind of quiet crescendo that, juxtaposed against the overriding serenity of the concert, renders a sense of the sublime.

The concert’s emphasis on its own transcendent value makes it accessible to an audience of Fringe-goers who may never have experienced koto music before. Of course, the formal elements of the music still deserve appreciation. However, where the audience’s understanding of Japanese musical tradition may be lacking, Kawaguchi and Kikuchi seek to emit a universal sense of serenity. Even their listing in the Fringe guide trumpets the music’s depiction of natural beauty.

Sadly, the stage design detracts from this otherwise evocative experience. For the duration of the concert images that seem to be the result of googling ‘nature’ and ‘Japan’ are projected onto a screen behind the performers. The nagging sense of unintentional self-parody these slides create, detracts from the concert’s aim to evoke the beauty of nature.

Regardless, the concert is still a beautiful experience. Kawaguchi and Kikuchi both produce exquisite music. So close your eyes, and drift into their ‘world of timelessness’.

Koto Music Concert: ‘Floating World of Timelessness‘ has now finished its season.


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