CULTURE

Biologist’s rundown on musical Japan

Mild alarm was felt recently as the evening’s guest speaker discovered that he had misplaced his notes while preparing to deliver a speech on «Japanese Music Today» at the Athens Concert Hall. All quickly returned to normal when the 79-year old composer Yoriaki Matsudaira relocated his notes to a lecture on the evolvement of classical Japanese music from the 19th century to the present. The lecture came as part of Japan Week, a cultural series that also featured performances, which ended over the weekend. Self-taught in music, Matsudaira drew from a scientific background in biology for a highly informative and well-presented lecture. Indeed, at times it proved challenging for the non-specialized. But Matsudaira countered by offering practical assistance. He often turned to a piano by his side to offer examples of his theories, especially when discussing the influence of western ways on traditional Japanese music. When refering to specific Japanese composers, Matsudaira presented recorded examples of their work. His choices, all exceptional, highlighted the imposing nature of Japanese sound combined with the musical language of Europe in the 20th century.