Wednesday May 25, 2022

A novel musical performance

October 10, 2018

All year round, the city witnesses a whole lot of musical performances, but seldom is one as interesting, as novel as the one we had at the Alliance-Francais on Monday evening.

While there’s a profusion of Western music and fusion music performances (a clumsy attempt to wed Western and Eastern music since the syntaxes of the two are worlds apart), Monday evening’s must be the first one of its kind.

It was a demonstration of a traditional Japanese musical instrument, the Koto, the artiste being Sumie Kaneko.

The Koto is a long wooden instrument with strings and a hollow body which gives a melodious resonance. Kaneko played the instrument with extreme dexterity and made it sound really melodious.

Her fingers moved over the elongated instrument most fluently and not even once did she go out of tune. She did not just play but also sang along in a melodious contralto. The most interesting part of it was when she rendered a subcontinental tune, “Sami Meri waar” with Koto accompaniment.

Alongside that, she also seemed to be really adept at yodeling. It certainly was a refreshing ninety minutes of music. Kaneko is also an accomplished jazz singer and songwriter, having graduated from the University of Tokyo and later studying vocal jazz at the Berkeley College of Music in the USA. She has collaborated with many international instrumentalists. She started playing when just five.

While it may be an exaggeration to say that she took the audience by storm, the listeners did evince interest in such a novel instrument which most of them were seeing and hearing for the first time-ever. It certainly was a highly entertaining and educative performance.

In time, people would get used to it and learn to appreciate it once such performances become more commonplace. Japanese Consul-General in town Toshikazu Isomura thanked Kaneko for travelling all the way to Pakistan to display her talent and introduce a hitherto unheard of musical instrument in Pakistan and emphasised the significance of cultural exchanges between countries through music.