Mukashi Mukashi! is a music and storytelling ensemble presenting contemporary interpretations of Japanese folk tales. The group features Kyoko Tadoako from Okinawa, and Noriko Takahashi from Tokyo – who bring an authentic flavour of Japanese music, song and dance. The principle storyteller is Iwan Kushka from Belgium.
The music of Mukashi Mukashi! draws on a wide range of influences. In addition to Japanese instruments such as koto (13-stringed zither), sanshin (3-stringed banjo from Okinawa) and shakuhachi (bamboo flute), there is the classical Indian cello (a rare instrument with 10 additional sympathetic strings), the Zimbabwean mbira (thumb piano), Arabian oud (pear-shaped lute), the warm sound of the harmonium, the other-worldly strains of the Thai khene (bamboo mouth organ), as well as bells, drums and gongs from Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
Mukashi Mukashi! productions feature original scores that weave together elements of Okinawan folk songs, dynamic percussion ensemble pieces, Indian ragas and bhajans and a colorful array of original musical textures. Apart from the set pieces, the musicians also react to the story in a more spontaneous and illustrative way: an exciting dialogue between the twists and turns of the plot and improvised moments of musical expression.
Muskashi Mukashi! Productions:
The Man who sang to Ghosts
One of the most well-loved traditional Japanese ghost tales, Mimi Nashi Hoichi is the tale of a young blind biwa player who has to give the recital of his life when he finds himself in the Ancient Imperial Court of the dead. The ‘demon fires’ or roaming ghosts of the Heike clan are trying to lure him into their world forever. There is a way to escape them… but it comes at a colossal sacrifice…Will he be able to make it?
The Glassblower’s Daughter
This is the compelling story of a young girl pitted against a most cruel and powerful feudal lord wishing to marry her against her will. She cannot say ‘yes’ because her heart loves another: the young farm boy Heisaku. She cannot say ‘no’ because the evil lord threatens to kill her father if she refuses him. Yet she is ordered to come back in one week and speak only one word, ‘yes’ or ‘no’…what will she do?
The Serpent and the Bell
The Tale of Dojoji
Mukashi Mukashi’s latest production is based on a medieval tale of unrequited love. Set in a once upon a time Japan of demons, ghosts and magic, the story also incorporates many elements of the Zen culture which has so profoundly shaped Japanese society over the centuries.
We are then very brusquely thrown into modern-day Japan, and more precisely post-tsunami North East Japan, where a very peculiar and very real phenomenon has arisen around the ghosts of the Tsunami. Suddenly, the distinctions between mythical past and secular present seem blurred… What bridges the two is the awakened compassion and worldview of a perennial Eastern spirituality…
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