“Koto Transformation: A Concert and Workshops of Transcultural Koto Music by the Satsuki Odamura Koto Ensemble, Australia”

The Department of Musicology, UP College of Music hosted “Koto Transformation: A Concert and Workshops of Transcultural Koto Music by the Satsuki Odamura Koto Ensemble, Australia” from the 24th to the 26th of September 2018. It was the last event of the tour of the Ensemble, after Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore. Odamura is a koto virtuoso who has been based in Australia for 30 years. She established the Koto Music Institute of Australia in 2007, and created her own ensemble. It has been performing internationally with critical success.


While koto music is inevitably associated with Japan, Koto Transformation presented a unique approach to it, gathering compositions for koto by Australian musicians from different genres, and consequently showcased the production of transcultural music.

These works were probably characterized by three major musical elements: the creation of peculiar scales and clusters, the complex amalgam of rhythm patterns, and the incorporation of improvisational parts. While these were not new to contemporary compositions, it engendered the distinctive soundscape when they were combined with the characteristic timbre of the instrument as well as musicality and dexterity of the established koto performers. This framework was presented, too, in the workshops of composition and improvisation for koto.

The faculty and students of UP College of Music actively participated in the event. Dr. Jonas Baes composed “Poesie: Music for Verne” for this concert, and it was performed by Satsuki Odamura and Joseph Emmanuel Hernandez, a cellist.

Dr. Hiroko Nagai and the TUGMA Koto Ensemble also joined in the concert as performers. The Odamura and TUGMA Ensembles were able to stage Tadao Sawai’s legendary piece “For Two Armadas” that required at least 12 performers with advanced skills and 5 bass kotos.


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