Ensuring the Continuation of Traditional Music, Fitting in with Modern Motivations, Creating a Legacy for the Future

(From the printed program, January 11, 2015, Yuzuruha no Kai concert)

Happy New Year.
In the general election that was held in the busy time at the end of last year, the Liberal Democratic Party won a big victory. At the end of the year, while looking back at the year just past, you probably enjoyed bonenkai (year-end parties) and Christmas parties with lively music. Congratulations on welcoming the New Year with good health and a refreshed spirit.
Today, in this New Year, a new group has started.
These young performers are aware of their responsibility and mission to pass traditional music on to the next generation. They have brought together their ability and dreams in order to create new projects. It is the birth of a hopeful, promising, fresh group of artists.
These three young women named their group “Yuzuruha no Kai”. That is a powerful name.
The performers include one gidayu tayu (narrator-singer), one shamisen player, and one shinnai tayu. Gidayu joururi originated in Osaka, which is in the western part of Japan, whereas shinnai was born in Edo (now Tokyo), in the eastern part of Japan. Today’s concert will contrast these two forms of joururi.
Gidayu, from the western part of Japan, is considered to be the leading type of shamisen music, whereas shinnai, from the east, is said to be refined and delicate. Both of these narrative arts have captured the hearts of the Japanese people. What is their charm? What is the source of their beauty? I believe that the objectives of this new group are to pursue these questions and to think about how to transmit these excellent Japanese traditional arts to the next generations.
Today, 70 years after the war, Japan is, in many ways, in a period of transition. The country faces various problems in politics and the economy. The world of Japanese traditional music should not stay unchanged.
In order to keep traditional music alive, I believe that it is essential to come up with innovations. We should do that in the spirit of the saying, “By studying the old, one becomes able to understand the new.”
At this time of the birth of Yuzuruha no Kai, I have many expectations for this group of artists. I will be watching their success, development, and achievements.
I would like to thank the audience for coming today. I look forward to your continued support of this group.

Tsuruga Wakasanojo

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