Japanese Music

The Kobe Municipal Choir
The Wadatsumi Drummers

Tues 20 August 1996 at 7:30 in the James Hay Theatre
(Part of the Festival of Japan)

The program started with a 45 minute song about the Kobe earthquake. This was prefaced with a brief video showing stills of the damage.

The choir is about 60 in number, with conductor and piano (player included).

The singing is technically good, however about half way through, the mind does wander. They used the projector to provide an English translation. Unfortunately this was marred by spelling mistakes. It also broke words over two lines. A bit more effort would have helped.

It occurred to me that it would have been better if they dispensed with the video introduction. Instead the photographs could have been used throughout the singing to illustrate the events that unfolded.

In contrast to the choir, the drummers were positively exuberant. They have been together since 1989, and their enjoyment of the music showed.

They used a large wooden drum, slightly smaller than a kettle drum. These had a wonderful reverberance, when all were played together they filled the James Hay theatre to amplified rock music volumes.

Their show started with a sole flute player.

The next piece set the tone of the rest of the show with colorful dancers and hypnotic rhythms.

During on piece, where two drummer fight over one drum, one of the drummers was pushed off the stage into the audience (to the amusement of the audience).

Also of note was a solo performance by a drummer with his drum mounted at head height. The energy put into the playing was reflected not only in the powerful sound, but in the movement of his whole body to pound the drum into submission.

The drums are struck with a solid stick with force, these players are fit people. Halfway through I was expecting someone to pierce a drum.

The encore piece was a rain dance, ironic since it was raining at the time.

The show ended with a few speeches and the company sang “Po kare kare ana”.

The Wadatsumi Drummers are not to be missed, but I could easily avoid the choir.