Jan 9

WIT Life #148: Mikarimba

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

On Friday night I had the opportunity to see the performance of marimbist Mika Yoshida at Carnegie Hall.  The program was entitled “Mikarimba Madness” and also featured drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Eddie Gomez, as well as the participation of special father/son guests clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and pianist Peter John Stoltzman.  During the night Yoshida wore a wide range of expressions on her face from fierce to completely content, as she both pounded and lightly tickled the marimba’s keys with a variety of mallets.  For a petite woman, she was an extremely powerful performer!  The compositions were jazzy type interpretive pieces, and they got the crowd’s feet moving and hands clapping in rhythm one minute and then led them into deep introspection the next.

I had received the tickets at the Battenkai shinnenkai held earlier in the week, and I discovered Yoshida’s Kyushu connection when reading in the program that she is from Amakusa, Kumamoto.  This brought a wave of natsukashii memories as that is where I headed every summer during time my time on JET to the beautiful beaches of an area called Ushibuka.  According to her homepage, Yoshida organized an international art and music festival in Amakusa back in 2005.  She came to New York three years ago, and before she began exploring the potential of jazz she was a classical marimba performer.

In the audience that night was Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya and his lovely wife Yukiko, spending their last night in New York before heading home to Tokyo the next day (how else would you spend your last night in the city but at quintessential Carnegie Hall?).  I was not aware that Ambassador Nishimiya was leaving his post, so I was very glad to be able to see him and his wife one last time.  He was always a big supporter of JETAA and all of our activities, so let’s hope his successor is just as wonderful a person as he is.  Kora kara mo ganbatte kudasai, Nishimiya Taishi!

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