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Another looney day in Japan

September 1, 2007 at 6:18 AM

one way I keep my life in Japan exciting is not paying close attention to what is going on. The way this system works is I try to stay alert to days when things may be happening but probe no further. Thus recently I had noticed my piano trio increasing the number of rehearsals per week, muttering a lot and asking me to sign bits of paper. Then as per system, I got dressed up, into a car and was transported to a place I had never been before for some thing to do with music. So what exactly are we doing today I enquired at last.
Cellist `oh. Today our trio is competing in a big competition here.`
B) Really? That was the pouint of all that work then... How many contestants today?
c) About 80.
B) Mmm. So we play for....
c) 6 minutes.

I thought the event was a bit odd since aside from 50 solo pianists there was a marimba group, sax band and a lone mandolin player. Fortunately we were put into classes of which ours was called `chamber ensemble.` I have to confess to being puzzled as to why a solo violinist playing Ysaye and another playing the Bruch with piano accompaniament counted as chamber ensemble but there you go. As we were about to go on stage I said `look guys, I don`t want to drive all this way for six minutes. Let`s just play through this Beethoven trio until somebody stops us.` Nobody did. We played for a long time!
Anyway, we won. The judges included a well known Japanese contest pianist who in her comments said that she had given us 100 percent across the board for all judging criteria, but with reservations. I have to confess this puzzled me. I mean if she had reservations (which she didn`t specify) then why not give us 95 percent instead? Later that day I met her by the coffee machine and she looked at me quizically `Do I know you from somewhere?` `Yes, I was concertmaster of an orchestra you played the Beethoven Emeperor cocnerto with five years ago.`
`Really? How was it?`
I couldn`t resist. `I gave it 100 percent across the board with no reservations.` She smiled sweetly and my heart broke. Again.

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on September 1, 2007 at 6:47 AM
Congratulations, Buri! But first, I have to say I’m 100 % happy to see you back again with reservation that you might disappear again. Don’t for a moment thinking is carrying on without you business as usual; it’s not the same without you and that I'm 100% sure without reservation.
From Albert Justice
Posted on September 1, 2007 at 7:26 AM
Well, I talked to the lady today, and she reduced your marks across the board to 85 because you have neglected us. So there Mr. World Traveler.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 1, 2007 at 1:44 PM
>The judges included a well known Japanese contest pianist who in her comments said that she had given us 100 percent across the board for all judging criteria, but with reservations.

Very funny. And loved your later reply.

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on September 1, 2007 at 7:45 PM
No need for the broken heart. She's smilin' not laffin'.
From Nicholas Tavani
Posted on September 1, 2007 at 9:32 PM
Congrats! which competition was it? what did you play?
From Nicholas Tavani
Posted on September 1, 2007 at 9:33 PM
EDIT: which beethoven did you play, i mean
From Michael Schallock
Posted on September 2, 2007 at 7:31 PM
Welcome back.
I missed you.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on September 2, 2007 at 10:36 PM
Jim- you gotta see the smile...
Nicholas- Beethoven C minor. Very frustrating piece for two reasons. First finding a unifyinf pulse in the first movement. Its marked con Brio and I find most recordings including Stern (who I regard a sa master chamber player) lacking this quality. But the second subj3ect and lyrical parts seem to need to go soooo much slower. Perrsonally I don`t worry too much about tempo shifts in Beethoven since i belive that was the practice in his time. But todays judges and listeners seem so brainwashed by the metronome and soemthign perhaps called `muscial discipline` that it seems out of fashion to play a beautiful melody at a slower tempo.Second, sionce the work is pretty much a piano cocnerto with string accompaniamnet intonation has to follow the piano exactly most of the time. Not fun for me!
Yixi- back after the summer vacation and abusing the school computers. Lets rock and roll.
Everyone- still the collest site on the planet.
From Andreas Preuss
Posted on September 3, 2007 at 1:28 AM
Isn't life in Japan adventurous? You can't read a thing and the best response you get at times is a very polite smile.
I am living here now for over one year as a violin maker and any string player who is lost in translation is welcome to contact me!
I left this feeling of floating in the 'where-do-we-go?-world' behind me because I learned Japanese. Then all of a sudden everything looses the surrealistic touch. (Sometimes I think it was a mistake to learn Japanese...)


Andreas Preuss

From Willie M
Posted on September 4, 2007 at 2:40 AM

Have you read Dave Barry Does Japan?

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on September 4, 2007 at 3:42 AM
yes. He`s much funnier than me. Besides, I am never sure if I am doing Japan or the reverse.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on September 4, 2007 at 11:26 PM
You need to get ahold of this album:,_Tune_In,_Drop_Out_(Timothy_Leary_album)

and pay special attention to Side A, track 5. We'll get you this smilin' chick.

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