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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jiuta The Romantic Art of Voice from Edo


Jiuta Concert: Thursday 8 January, 2009

Jiuta - (jee-oo-tah) literally "earth songs" - are traditional Japanese songs sung to the accompaniment of the shamisen. Jiuta were first heard in the early 17th century at private households and the entertainment districts around Kyoto and Osaka. Handed down by blind male musicians, this music rapidly flourished among the rising urban and literate classes during the Edo period. The fine timbre and subtle lyricism of jiuta have been cultivated since then, creating an intimate relationship between the performers and the audience. One is able to imagine how this music was appreciated amongst the people of the time from ukiyoe woodblock prints.

Fujii Akiko, one of the foremost performers of jiuta, is the daughter of the renowned Ningen-Kokuh, or "Living National Treasure," the late Fujii Kunie. Her family has passed on this historically influential and artistic music which has survived over 400 years, and their highly artistic singing style clearly embodies the world of jiuta. Her haunting voice has achieved acclaim both in Japan and abroad. She has received awards from the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Japan Traditional Cultures Foundation and the Pola Foundation.

This concert is the 2nd opportunity to enjoy a varied selection of jiuta. It is accompanied by the traditional dance "Jiuta-Mai", the intricate plucking of the koto, the resonant vibration of the shamisen, and the meditative tone of the fue (flute) and the tsuzumi (hand drum). To hear their sensuous complexity with the beauty of the singing is to experience the romantic art of voice as it was heard in old Edo (the old name for Tokyo).

The Japan Traditional Cultures Foundation is trying to introduce jiuta to the international community in Tokyo and abroad. Oshogatsu (New Year) is one of the best times to come into contact with Japanese traditional culture. Music fans and kimono lovers should not miss the chance to meet this outstanding artist at Tokyo's Aoyama Round Theatre.

All are welcome. Experience for yourself an old and beautiful Japanese musical tradition.

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