Category Archives: Music

Play It Again, D! : A wonderful class party with nice friends, delicious food and beautiful music.

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casablanca      “Again!?” D exclaimed rolling his eyes, but began playing the piano. The room was filled with the beautiful melody. As Time Goes By. This music is well known for the theme music of the timeless classic “Casablanca” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. TS3N1169-a

     This is Jin’s house. He invited his classmates and teacher when the class in the first semester was over. We had a class party there. (I’ve written about our previous class party at his house before and mentioned how big his house is. http://wp.me/p16bjt-bp) Jin is very nice and kind, and needless to say, generous.  TS3N1170

     We enjoyed talking over delicious food, such as, hand-rolled sushi with fresh seafood and vegetables, most of which were raised by Jin and his wife K in their field, and K’s wonderful okonomi-yaki. K had baked cake for us, but no one could eat it at the place because all of us ate too much before it. By the time we had finished our ice cream and jellies, no one had room for the cake… (Of course, we took it out home.) TS3N1171

     I wrote “classmates” and “teacher” above. Jin and most of the participants at the party took an English class at a university in the first semester (spring and summer), and D is the “teacher”. Play-It-Again-Sam_3

     The class is not a usual conversational class, but quite unusual with movies, which we watch with media literacy, psychology and philosophy. In the first semester, we studied with “Casablanca” and a kind of its travesty “Play It Again, Sam” and a Warner Brothers’ cartoon “Carrotblanca”.   ShowImage

     “Casablanca” is, as we all know, a great film released in 1942. “Play It Again, Sam” is a comedy of Woody Allen in 1972, and the title is derived from the famous line of Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa in “Casablanca”. Actually she said, “Play it once, Sam,” in the movie. “Carrotblanca” is a cartoon of Warner Brothers’ in 1995. The role of Bogart is Bugs Bunny and Bergman is Penelope Pussycat. The punch line of Bugs Bunny is, “Here’s looking at you, Kit.” As you see, it’s a parody of Bogart’s famous line of “Casablanca”: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

     In the opening of D’s “Again?” is, of course, from non-existent line “Play it again, Sam.” As Time Goes By played by Sam in “Casablanca” is wonderful, but I like D’s version, too. Nice and cheerful friends and delicious food and wonderful music…I hope we’ll have a party at Jin’s house AGAIN!

           

The 18th M&P’s Tea Concert: I’ll Miss You and Your Cucumber Sandwiches!

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TS3N1042      “Yes, we’re going back soon but I’ll be returning to Japan for more Tea Concerts quite often, so no panic there.” His email said that, but I was very surprised and a kind of panicked.

     The sender is Mr. Paul Lewis, the president of M&P’s Tea. Who taught me the loveliness of a cup of tea was him… He not only sells tea leaves but also has concerts. I didn’t know that he was going back to the U.K soon until he sent me the information of the 18th M&P’s Tea Concert. Actually, I seldom see him unless he has a concert or a tea seminar. So, whether he is here in Japan or not, chances to meet him for me is not so different. But it’s sad to know that you can’t see someone anytime.  TS3N1048

     The 18th M&P’s Tea Concert, as the final one before Paul’s return, was excellent. It was held at Yama-no-Hall in Nisshin as usual. The hall is located by a quiet pond with trees. It looked more beautiful that day than usual because of the snow in the morning. I enjoyed the music played by three women (flute, cello and piano). The trio played: Hungarian Dances No.2 by Brahms, Minuet “The Girl from Aries” Suite No.2 by Bizet, Sicilienne and Burlesque by Casella, The Swan by Saint-Saens, Sonata III Movement by Rachmaninoff, Dreams of Love by Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsodies No.10 by Liszt, and Trio by Kapustin.  TS3N1037

     I also enjoyed the afternoon tea party after the concert. The participants had lots of M&P’s tea and cake, scones, and Paul’s special cucumber sandwiches. I really like his sandwiches! I’ve tried to make cucumber sandwiches once, but they were totally different from Paul’s…TS3N1045

    The day, January 30th, was Michael’s birthday. So, there was a surprise for him. Suddenly someone started playing “Happy Birthday to You” on the piano amid the party and then all of the participants sang the song for him. That was heartwarming. Michael looked a little bit embarrassed, though. TS3N1046

     Paul mentioned the next Tea Concert and he was going to have it in November. I can’t see him and eat his cucumber sandwiches until then, but I can get M&P’s tea anytime on line. Of course, so can you! Their tea is the finest I know. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next Tea Concert this fall!

M&P’s Tea: http://www2.gol.com/users/pndl/mpt/welcome/index.html

Yama-no-Hall: http://www.h4.dion.ne.jp/~ymhall/shoukai.htm

The Troubled-Ridden Karaoke Session

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TS3N0997      Since when have I had the annual year-end karaoke party? It was D who created an opportunity to start the event a few years ago. One day he came to me and said that he would have liked to try karaoke once because he had never done in spite of living in Japan for a long time, and that he needed to know what it exactly was because karaoke is one of the most popular and important cultures in Japan, or something…TS3N1002

     I gathered people for having a karaoke session that year, and since then I enjoyed karaoke with him and our friends every end of the year. Yes, I had a karaoke party at the end of last year, too. There were 12 people in the party this time. Actually, one of us came from Tokyo that day! TS3N1006

     The karaoke shop has many small rooms, but has only one room for more than 10 people. So, I made a reservation for that big room for 12 of us. Actually, the room was not “big”. Interestingly it was covered with tatami, or Japanese traditional straw mats, and people had to take their shoes off. We were about to start karaoke after introducing ourselves, when many troubles happened…TS3N1004

     First, the tools for sending data to the karaoke machine were broken, and we needed to change them. Second, there was no sound from the machine, and we found out that it was broken. Third, we had to change the room and to move tables and chairs to stick ouselves into a small room. Fourth, we had to pay the fee including the loss time. Finally, after moving to another room, the microphone broke…I can’t believe it! (I won the discount, though.) TS3N1001

     But I’m sure all the participants had a really great time in spite of those many terrible things. One trouble after another, we finally began laughter. We huddled in the small room and sang many songs together without microphone. That was quit cozy and homelike and fun.

 

God Jul! Swedish Christmas Night

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TS3N0971      And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19)

     That was the first verse I memorized at Bethany Chapel when I was a child. I wonder how much time has passed since then…Anyway, I was in the same church last night. There was an event named Swedish Christmas Night at the chapel. A young Swedish man named Marcus is now staying at the church and introduced about his country, especially in Christmas time, last night. TS3N0977

     There was a small concert at the chapel in the event. Marcus is a trumpeter of a band in his country. So, mainly Marcus played the trumpet and Mark, the minister of the church, played the guitar, and the participants sang songs together: Angles We Have Heard on High, Hymn to Joy, O Holy Night, What Child is This? and Amazing Grace and so on. That was a fantastic time. TS3N0974

     After the concert, the participants enjoyed Swedish food, such as, saffron bread, ginger bread, meatball with fruit jelly, pickled herrings, and etc…All of them were so delicious!TS3N0979

     I went to the church for the first time when I was 8 or 9 years old. I happened to meet this tall white man in my neighborhood at that time. The man was Rev. Hans Magnuson from Sweden. He established Bethany Chapel nearby about 50 years ago. I don’t remember the matters, but I began going to Sunday school and learning English from him then. As I was growing, however, I lost interest in Christianity and English. I stopped going to church and forgot about Hans in the process. TS3N0981

     I can no longer see Hans at the church. He passed away about 10 years ago. Now his son Mark is the pastor there. Actually, the young Swedish Marcus’s grandma is Hans’s sister. So, Marcus’s eyes widened when I told him that Hans was my first English teacher before he was born. Of course, I added hastily, “Oh, don’t try to calculate my age.” TS3N0982

     I enjoyed listening to music, singing songs, having wonderful Swedish food, and talking to many people there. I had a really great time! I wish you a merry Christmas! God Jul!

Bethany Chapel  http://church.ne.jp/bethany/us/index.html

The Lowest Trees Have Tops

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     Have you ever heard of these words? : Semper Dowland, semper dolens. That was John Dowland’s motto. He was one of the greatest musicians during the late Renaissance. He was English, but he was flourished all over Europe. The second song in the English class with songs this month was The Lowest Trees Have Tops of Sting (Journey & The Labyrinth: The Music of John Dowland) . The song was composed by John Dowland. Sting covered the 16th century’s greatest hit maker John Dowland’s lute songs in 2006. 
 

              

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The lowest trees have tops, the ant her gall
The fly her spleen, the little spark his heat;
The slender hairs cast shadows, though but small,
And bees have stings, although they be not great;
Seas have their source, and so have shallow springs;
And love is love, in beggars and in kings.

Seas have their source, and so have shallow springs;
And love is love, in beggars and in king. Where waters smoothest run, deep are the fords,
The dial stirs, yet none perceives it move;
The firmest faith is in the fewest words,
The turtles cannot sing, and yet they love;
True hearts have eyes, and ears, no tongues to speak;
They hear, and see, and sigh, and then they break.
True hearts have eyes, and ears, no tongues to speak;
They hear, and see, and sigh, and then they break.

     The song is very beautiful with the 16th century’s lute music and Sting’s sexy voice, and of course its meaningful lyrics. Some words are pronounced differently between the era and today, such as great, word, and break. Sting is singing the song with the old style in the CD. In addition, the dial means the sundial, and turtles mean doves.

     Ha ha, people have to just sigh when they are fall in love. People may feel happiest in life only while phenylethylamine is coming out much in the brain.

Journey & The Labyrinth: The Music of John Dowland

The Story of Our Darling Grace

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    Have you ever heard of the name Grace Darling? If you’re English, of course, you have. Now, yes, I have, but I hadn’t until recently because I’m Japanese. I took an interesting English course with using songs this month, and the first song was about her. The song is The Story of Our Darling Grace of Bill Jones (Two Year Winter),  the British folk singer. This song’s tune is Celtic. 

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The Story of Our Darling Grace 

All you from England, you will know her name
The story’s taught at school and the books proclaim
A Victorian heroine of great renown
And her name it was grace Darling from Bamburgh town

William her father worked on the Longstone Light
The galeswept Forfarshire ran aground one night
Daybreak arrive, Grace with keen eyes saw
Men clinging to Harcar rock out a mile from shore They rowed the coble out in a violent tide
Rescued the nine whose forty mates had died
The second time William took the boat alone
Through the storm they nursed the men in their lighthouse home

Broadsides bent the truth for to sell their wares
The Darling’s story changed far beyond compare
“Grace of womanhood, darling of mankind”
Made their English rose all for a penny a line Artists arrived to capture her dainty face
Pedlars hawked locks of hair and her rocktorn dress
Boats came to Longstone with their sightseeing crew
Grace yearned for solitude as the circus grew

Four years’ attention after that fateful night
Never too strong, Grace she took ill and died
Even the Queen sent money for her grave
Grace was hailed an example for the Victorian age

Over the years the legend has changed and grown
Bamburgh’s lighthouse watching over the stone
See the museum and her resting place
Find the truth in the story of our darling Grace  

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     If you read the lyrics above, you know who Grace Darling was and what happened with her. According to the teacher of the English class, the children in the U.K learn about Grace Darling at elementary school with the untrue version of the story. That is, it seems that even now most of British people believe Grace Darling  rescued sailormen alone in the storm courageously, and that many of them visit her museum and buy her goods. Look at her admirable grave! Where is her father’s?

     An ordinary woman was held up high on a pedestal by media and had to die from disease brought by tourism. Her hairs and strips of her dress have been sold even after her death, and how many Graces Darling existed with all those hairs and pieces of clothes? Daily news is made by someone’s will and it sets off on the street, and people believe it is true.

 Two Year Winter  

East-West Melodies

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    Can you imagine of the concert of Chinese pipa, erhu, piano and soprano? It might be beyond your imagination. There was a concert titled Tozai-no-shirabe, or east-west melodies, at Aichi Shukutoku University the other day. That was a memorial event for celebrating its new department.img_03

   It was the first time for me to see and listened to Chinese pipa and erhu in person. Those are traditional Chinese musical instruments. They sound very Chinese. But fantastically the players played melodiously modern music with piano and soprano.img_04

 

 

    Chinese pipa was played by Mr. Tu Shan Xiang, erhu by Mr. George Gao, piano by a beautiful Italian, Ms. Vanessa Banelli Mosell, and soprano was Ms. Rumi Yano, the Japanese.img_05

     They played some Chinese classic, classical music, such as Paganini’s and Tárrega, and Japanse music and so on. Chinese, Italian and Japanese musicians played European and Asian music. That was exactly east-west melodies. I enjoyed their impressive performance and really had a good timeimg_06!

Photos: Aichi Shukutoku University