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Anglo-Japanese Society of Wessex

An Unincorporated Association

Honorary Patrons:
Kazue Yanagida, Aisa Ijiri, George Logan (Dr Evadne Hinge), Michael Soumei Coxall

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Kazue Yanagida

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Jackie Wright

Godfrey King

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Established 1996

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柳田 和江(名誉パトロン)AJSW日本代表

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AJSW Blog Archive 2008 - 2014 (discontinued)

2011 AJSW Thank You! – 15th Anniversary Year!


The year finished with about the same number of AJSW concerts as the previous year’s 76 concerts at all venues…those mainly used being some 60 at St Dunstan,11 Bristol Cathedral, 7 St James,Piccadilly and two at the International Concert venue in Bristol; St Georges’.

The 2nd August Music Festival at St Dunstan-in-the-West was another huge success but I had precious little help and found myself opening the church, organising the advertising and literature over 16 concerts which grossed a thousand pounds netting some £600 in profit and the year’s gross takings were £4,000 with the estimated profit of some £2,000 over from around 60 concerts.

There were so many wonderful musical memories at all venues we organised for. At St Dunstan pianists Akiko Murakami, Emiko Miura, Maiko Mori played more than one memorable concert and Hiroko Yamamoto brought two excellent soloists in consecutive weeks with Helen Wills on flute and violinist Samuel Kopelman. Nina Leo emerged as someone special with an engaging personality,determination and talent to match. My teenage piano hero Neville Dickie playing his rags and stride piano repertoire delighting those that heard him during the August Music Festival.

Violinists excelled along with Samuel Kopelman there was also Midori Komachi who we have had a long association with now, Korean Jung Yoon Cho, the delectable Rachel M Weiser from Leichtenstein, Ryoko Harada returning for a short London visit. But it was the cultural shock of hearing the moving but bizarre arrangement of ‘Silent Night’ by Russian composer ‘Schnitke’ played beautifully by, new to us, Megumi Nagae who performed two concerts at St Dunstan for us including this tortured arrangement that reminded me, at least, that the night-time is not ‘Holy’ for some.

Also new to us but remarkable was the young cellist Aiko Mori playing three concerts, one with her sister Aisa Mori and being one of the ’15th Anniversary’ musicians at St George’s on November 10th. And we had a Chopin’s first piano concerto but played by Kiyo Takahashi supported by a string quartet lead by Ayako Yamazaki before she headed for a mountain region in Italy to play it supported by a full orchestra.

St James, Piccadilly is best remembered for all the musicians being equally as good as each other! Chisato Kusunoki’s concert stood out as St James kindly pledged donations that day should go towards the victims of the ‘Tsunami’.. Ryoko Harada’s ‘Moana Trio’ Trio was short lived as she was shortly to return to Japan for an orchestral position….the saddest part of my role is seeing ambitions curtailed by circumstances.

Bristol Cathedral is always contemplated with some trepidation due to the long hours spent on a coach going to and fro…..up to 6 hours and off early in the morning. But the sheer size and beauty of the cathedral and the acoustics cause the musicians to give extra. Kumi Matsuo’s first solo recital for us (after many accompanist roles) was remarkable for its power and beauty. It was not surprising she was to go on this year to win an important international piano competition in Serbia. Emiko Miura also played a moving concert tinged with a jazz influenced composition of Russian composer Kapustin. Horia Vacarescu’s violin playing was aggressive and full of skill ably supported by pianist Chiho Tsunakawa. The undoubted talent of Jun Ishimura brought attention deficit challenges as she went 30 minutes beyond her normal concert time. Jun seemed in a different world although much praised for her performance.. Kazue Yanagida’s rehearsal was caught on camera and deposited on YouTube and one of the best was Ayako Yamazaki who this society first organised a concert for in 2001 down in the Wiltshire Town of Warminster. Mansoon Bow’s violin was evident at all venues we organised for and her campaigning for music in churches in Japan reveals not only her musical talent but intelligence and social awareness.

Regular Venues:- St Dunstan-in-the-West, Fleets Street, London – Bristol Cathedral – St James, Piccadilly, London – St. George’s – Bristol.

Patron:- Kyoko Gledhill  
Hon Patrons: Prof. Tomotada Soh (Hon RAM), George Logan (Dr Evadne Hinge), Alexander Rosenblatt, Gordon Fergus-Thompson (FRCM)

President: Shakti

Advisors:- Shakti, Keith Haines, Jackie Wright, Prof Tomotada Soh (Hon RAM), Gordon Fergus-Thompson(FRCM) , Phil Ronan, Lester Kan (Lester Dominic – solicitors)

Web Site Organiser:- Phil Ronan. And Honorary Web Organiser: Mari Numada (thanks Mari)

High Spots:- It has to be our 15th Anniversary Concert at St George’s, Bristol on November 10th. All of the musicians who took part (listed below) and the St George’s staff as well as those that helped before, on the day and after….even a few fans who made the trip made it memorable. It would be wrong to single out anyone. Even the train journey down and back, one musician said, was like a ‘school outing’. We have a few tracks on our Home Page and Blog and there will be a Souvenir CD of it….sorry it is not available yet. So many good things have come from it to build on in the future. Thank you to all those that took part. As well as ‘looking on’ at what other musicians do ‘we’ made a musical contribution of our own. From it came the ‘8 hands on 2 pianos’ group making its debut this year at St George’s on November 29th under the AJSW group title:-  ‘Inzpir8tion’.

15th Anniversary Concert at St George’s, Bristol on November 10th.

Kazue Yanagida (director of strings) – Jung Yoon Cho – Elizabeth McGrath – Mansoon Bow         (violins / viola) Ryoko Harada – Kaya Kuwabara
(cellos) Aiki Mori – Aya Halder
Akiko Murakami (director of pianos) – Hiroko Yamamoto – Yukiko Shinohara – Kumi Matsuo

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For individual performance :- I am increasingly loathe to single anyone out in case all the rest think they have some failings… and it is never that! As an organiser, an enthralled listener and a ‘fan’ that few would notice or ever know lives on in my memory. If the Archbishop of Canterbury can start one of his admirable speeches by mentioning a pop song (‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’) allow me a much older one ‘Little Things Mean A Lot’. If Yuki Negishi had not enterprisingly known of and first contacted composer Alexander Rosenblatt he would not have kindly allowed us use of his ‘Japanese Fantasia’ for our ’15th Anniversary’ concert which led to his Honorary Patronage and so many other things that have stemmed from it. If Kazue Yanagida (strings) had not worked so hard in tandem with Akiko Murakimi (piano) then the ’15th Anniversary Concert’ would not have even ever happened let alone be as good as it was.

Someone who did not perform but made a marked difference when her own composition and words Phil (web design) used for a message of sympathy for all the victims of the ‘Tusnami’ tragedy……Seiko Nagaoka was due to fly over for a short visit and performance at St Dunstan on March 16th (her poster was already up on the railings) had to curtail her plans as the Earthquake / Tsunami struck. She lives near the Tohoku area which was so tragically affected.

I know how much her compositions and music means to Seiko so, if all the other wonderful musicians will forgive me, to symbolize all the things that did happen yet could have been so much more but for many never will be, at best, quite the same again

                                              …thank you Seiko                                             

                                    Seiko Nagaoka – Pianist & composer

Seiko is going to have a recital
at Oji Hall in central Tokyo
on 26th August, 2012. 

From Seiko’s Album:

                                            FOR WORLD PEACE:  ‘WISH’

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To hear or buy more of Seiko’s recording contact:-  

‘Wish’ was inspired by a classmate. I hoped her children would grow up healthy and enjoy life. And those sentiments are for children everywhere. That they then grow into adulthood to accept themselves and others as they are, irrespective of wealth, education of differences and experience a number of wonderfuul things: I think it will help bring “Peace in the World”

Wooden Spoon:- Those not understanding the term…’a wooden spoon’ is a term used for someone coming last or acts in such a way as to be the least considered for praise. The AJSW primarily lives within the community of musicians we care for and support most. In the past year some of the talents visiting our shores, or those that have been here for many years, wish to remain displaying their talents to the benefit of that mix of peoples of the world that we are. The musicians bring money into this country. Into the music colleges where they are tutored and into the community. In many ways they enrich our social and economic life. I do not like to hear of them lumped to-gether with ‘crooks and con men’ and excluded from a country they have come to love and respect yet are rejected under the misnomer ‘Foreign’ as if they are so much trash that they can be spoken of in the same breath as thieves, drug dealers and pimps that are entitled to come to these shores because of an administrative, trading and political arrangement between European countries currently run by an unelected elite.

One year lost in the life of a young person can be a lifetime lost resulting in thwarted ambitions and opportunities.

The past year has revealed the breakdown of honesty and good ‘government’ in so many areas of the economic and social caring life of the UK that few would be left outside of prison confinement if included were those that ‘aided and abeted’. ‘They’ knew what was going on and ‘they’ did nothing about it until the crimes became so obvious and people became so demanding of justice being seen to be done that ‘they’ had to be put on show to explain their actions. The Iraq Enquiry (we are still waiting for its conclusions), The Levenson Enquiry into Press Hacking revelations, The Banking Crisis (another enquiry), Police Corruption, another War (Lybia), the breakdown in the Eurozone. All was avoidable but power and greed had no break on its excesses. More people went to jail for pinching a few valueless objects during the Tottenham riots than there has been so far through all of the above money squandering incompetance and dishonesty.

As a result of all this I see talented, pleasant and well mannered individuals have their hopes and dreams shattered through no fault of their own. Condemned as ‘unwanted’ as a political ploy to blame ‘immigration and the jobless’ as the cause of our ills.

Who can anyone point the finger at with such a panorama of targets? So I will boil it down to two goverment departments. The Home Office and ‘Arts and Culture’. The Home Office Minister (Theresa May) is running it no more efficiently than pervious incumbents and sets the quota system for Visa applications, and the ‘Arts’ Minister is Jeremy Hunt who believed the Murdoch Empire was a right and proper organisation to expand into other areas of our lives to enrich himself and his empire. Jeremy Hunt’s connections with Japan are well known. Wether he is a friend of the Japanese (I mean the Japanese people not the Japanese Government) is conjecture for those that know him. The two departments have combined to cause misery and economic incompetance and administrative gobbledegook to people we should welcome not treat with suspicion.

For being party to political sloganising and extremist, mindless dogma and prejudice that affected so many Japanese musicians and their traditional support base the

‘Wooden Spoon’  goes to Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt 


Japanese Heroes:-
To even consider or use the word ‘Hero’ in any context after such a year blighted by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and then nuclear plant disaster that reminded us all that Nature always has the final word and, if I may, the proven ‘Word’; Hero is a word made almost meaningless against the many acts that could fall within its meaning….acts of human kindness, compassion, bravery and selflessness. There were those that died making sure first their loved ones, friends and neighbours were safe. Perhaps who they are will never be known or only to a few who owe their lives to those that gave themselves so others could live.

In one of the harrowing pieces of film footage a little girl is looking over the rubble that was once her home and neighourhood. Her parents gone. The little girl is suddenly delighted as she finds a toy she loved so much found in the rubble. She runs back with it and smiling holds it up to show the companions who took her there. To have something left is better than nothing at all. Anything! It helps us remember even if ‘we’ the onlooker into a persons life may never know what those memories are.

The British Legion sent out a wooden cross to many people inviting them to send it back with a donation and placed on a memorial site to remember an unknown soldier. I didn’t do that. I kept the cross and placed it where I could see it every day and remember all those that gave their lives so others may live and remembering they too wanted to live just as much as those they saved.

Although not one of those ’10 years on’ memories, a man came to mind that I met all to briefly yet when I did he struck me as someone I could feel confident of. I can sense those with ‘side’ to them and this one was straight. And there was so much he too wanted to do and I was looking forward to meeting him more often in future in the wake of an exhausting time for ‘Japan 2001’ which he was seconded to. But it was not to be. His name was Katsuhiko Oku. Near the end of that festival he became director of the JICC (Japanese Information Centre). He gave me his Meishi which I still carry around with me……symbolic of the ‘wooden cross’. And in recalling the ‘Tsunami’ and how much happened or that which might have been but for its
devastation and the many heroic acts that might have been. So perhaps it is time we placed his memory in the context of the terrible tragedy of last year.

Some say things are inevitable….our futures are set. But for me if the USA did not elect George Bush junior who wanted to blame Iraq for the World Trade Centre (9 / 11) and Donald Rumsfeld wanted ‘more sites’ beyond Afghanistan to drop their bombs on, and if PM Blair had not been the persuader he was yet naive, and he had not been so in thrall of the USA and followed them wherever they took us, then Oku san would not have been sent to Iraq and would have no doubt still been alive to-day.

The Tsunami and the Earthquake preceding it was not avoidable…..but the effects of it were to a degree. In the same way ‘mans conflicts’ as with nations are inevitable but many of the resulting tragedies avoidable.

The Wikpedia insertion for Oku san states in its opening paragraph:-
“Violence by its very nature has tragic human consequences. It is particularly ironic, however, when deliberate violence claims the lives of people who were present in the theatre of conflict because they were trying to give its victims hope. Ambassador Katsuhiko Oku* and his colleague, Masamori Inoue, were attempting to do just that when they sacrificed their lives near Tikrit on their return from a conference on the reconstruction of Iraq”.

Reports stated the two men stopped on the road for a beef burger …..had they not done what you or I might do any day of the week in complete safety and without fear or concern, both would still be alive.

So to symbolise all those as ‘Japanese heros’ who were looking forward to a to-morrow that never came yet helped bring it about for others in memorium:-

Ambassador Katsuhiko Oku

Katsuhiko Oku was born on January 3rd, 1958. He died on November 29th, 2003.

(On 29 November 2003 Oku was posthumously promoted to Ambassador.)


Thank you to all the musicians who played and sang for us in the very special year of 2011. I can only repeat the pride I feel when I know how hard you work to achieve your standard and how important it is for you to please an audience. (Random order – number of concerts played in brackets if more than one):
Pianos:- Masayuki Tayama (3), Nao Maebayashi, Akiko Murakami (3). Waiyin Lee, Emiko Miura (4), Hiroko Yamamoto (2), Nico De Villiers, Miyuki Kato, Chio Tsunakawa (2), Kumi Matsuo (3), Philip Howard (3), Chisato Kusunoki (2), Alan Brown, Sam Liu (2), Daniel King-Smith, Nadav Hertzka, Asa Mori, Florian Mitrea (2), Maiko Mori (2), Erik Azzopardi, Ingrid Cussido, Olivia Geiser, Javier Vázquez Grela, Julia Hsu, Nao Maebayashi, Nicola Meecham (2), Richard McGrath, Aisa Ijiri, Catherine North, Kiyo Takahashi (2), Karim Said, Neville Dickie, Belinda Jones, Nina Leo, Catherine Nardiello, Jun Ishimura (2), Daniel King-Smith, Maki Sekiya, Mami Shikimori, Masa Tayama (2), Patricia Capone, Carson Becke, Emeline Archambault, Linton Powell,

Violins:- Chihiro Ono, Ryoko Harada (2), Horia Vacarescu, Yuka Ishizuka, Sebastian Meuller, Midori Komachi (2), Mansoon Bow (2), Kazue Yanagida (3), Jung Yoon Cho (3), Raluca Matei, Anete Graudina, Ayako Yamazaki (2), Tamaki Dickenson, Elizabeth McGrath, Megumi Nagae (2), Rosemary Hinton, Catherine Lindley (2), Sebastian Meuller, Samuel Kopelman, Mee Hyun Oh,
Tsze Yenn Yong, Rachel M. Weiser, Martha Walvoord.

Cello:- Aiki Mori (2), Flute:- Helen Wills. Guitar:- Finbarr Malafronte
Vocal:- (soprano) Paloma Bruce (Baritone) Juwon Ogungbe
Ensembles (members above not counted in ‘total appearances’):-
The Artisans:- (2) (Emily Askew, Hazel Askew – playing a variety of instruments including:- Vielle, Bagpipes, Recorders, percussion, Gothic Harp (& voices) helped over the two concerts by Sarah Stuart, Yvonne Eddy

Toki Quartet:- Aki Sawa (1st violin) – Midori Komachi (2nd Violin) – Joseph Fisher (Viola) – Amy Jolly (Cello)
Moana Trio:- Ryoko Harada (violin) – Lidia Teruel Sanchez (Cello) – Tania Park (Piano)
Ensemble Carvaggio:- Beartrice Scaldini (violin) – Carina Drury(Cello) – Nataniel Mander (fortepiano)
River City Saxes:- Bob Lowdell (soprano sax) – Kara Settle (alto sax) –
Sally Bluett (tenor sax) – Chris Hooker (baritone sax)
The Golden PIano Trio:- Valtie Nunn (violin) – Paloma Garcia Oliver (cello) – Manuel Lopez Gorge (piano)
Wolf String Trio:- Edward McCullagh (violin) – Alison Souza (viola) – Ralph Lang (cello)
Sebastian Meuller Students:-  February 2nd Ryoko Harada, Jessica Niggli, Jennifer Murphy, Camille Gouton, Bianca Fernandez.
March 2nd Judith Loetscher, Jennifer Murphy, Deborah Landolt

Vocal Groups:- Japonica Voices Mikiko Ridd – Kei Zushi – Yoko Harada with Noriko Sekiya (piano)

15th Anniversary Concert at St George’s, Bristol (Nov 10th):-
Kazue Yanagida (director of strings) – Jung Yoon Cho – Elizabeth McGrath – Ryoko Harada –
(violins / viola) Mansoon Bow – Kaya Kuwabara
(cellos) Aiki Mori – Aya Halder
Akiko Murakami (director of pianos) – Hiroko Yamamoto – Yukiko Shinohara – Kumi Matsuo

Tsunami Appeal Concerts:- March 16th RAM Musicians organised by Shio Osaki (Raising £295 for Tsunami appeal) at St Dunstan.
March 29th The Green Chorus (Raising £840 for the Red Cross) at St Dunstan
March18th Chisato Kusunoki (piano recital) at St James, PIccadilly.
(Raising £658 . 10 )

Godfrey King Director AJSW July 2012

nb Views expressed in the ‘Review’ are my own and not necessarily held by all members of theAJSW.

Thank you to Advisors Keith Haines and Jackie Wright for advice and proof reading.

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