#Showbiz: Mesmerising concert

THE recent music showcases featuring Japanese minyo group Mikage Project and Malaysian asli singer Asmidar were a celebration of the rich tradition and cultural heritage from both countries.

Held at the Petaling Jaya Performing Arts Centre in Bandar Utama, Selangor, the Mikage Project Asean Tour with Asmidar concert also entertained music fans in honour of the 50th Asean-Japan Friendship and Cooperation anniversary.

The 90-minute show saw the trio of musicians from Mikage Project — Sato Kouki, Asano Sho and Honma Takashi — performing on the shakuhachi, shinobue, ohayashi, Tsugaru shamisen, 25-string koto and percussion instruments.

Together with Asmidar's mellifluous vocals, the audience witnessed unique adaptations of Japanese and Malay classic folk songs from Kokiriko Bushi to Puteri Santubong.

Mikage, which means divine spirit in the Japanese language, is an apt name for the music group dedicated to modernising Japanese ancestral folk songs.

A day before the concert, Mikage Project also performed at Dewan Seri Budiman, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Shah Alam, which was a by-invitation-only affair.

In addition to the concert performances, a workshop took place at UiTM Shah Alam, which served to introduce traditional Japanese instruments featured in the concert.

This workshop provided an opportunity to engage with local music students on campus to foster cultural exchange.

During the workshop, a selected group of students played these instruments under the guidance of the Mikage Project members.

Mikage members also had fun teaching the students the traditional song and dance piece, Soran Bushi, which originated from the Hokkaido fishermen's community.

Talking about the collaboration with Asmidar for the concerts, Sho said: "She is a wonderful artiste and someone who truly loves and treasures Malaysian traditional music and culture.

"It was a wonderful experience creating music with her. She also respects Japanese culture and its traditional art form, minyo, or folk song.

"She can perform one of the Japanese minyo songs with impeccable pronunciation. I was truly touched by her passion for this project," he said.

He also expressed his group's commitment to strengthening the bonds between the two countries through folk song culture, intending to continue this friendship.

Asmidar began her artistic journey at the age of 12 when she was asked to record a traditional rhythm song, titled Jasa Pak Tani.

The 37-year-old artiste won the Bintang Asli competition in 2006 and later represented Malaysia at the World Championship of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, the United States, where she won three gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals in several categories.

Asmidar was also the champion of Vokal Bukan Sekadar Rupa with her song Biar Mimpi Sampai Ke Bintang in 2011.

"This was a significant opportunity for me to collaborate with them because, in my view, we share a similar background.

"Mikage Project, like me, are musicians known for playing traditional instruments and singing traditional songs.

"Our journey began in a comparable way. After studying these traditional songs, we've both ventured into creating new styles, which is truly fascinating," she said.

She added that part of her preparation for her performance included seeking assistance from her friend in Japan to perfect the pronunciation of the lyrics of Kokiriko Bushi and understand its meaning.

She also listened to various versions of the song, including the original rendition.

She expressed her openness to collaborating with Mikage Project in Japan one day, with the aim of sharing this cross-cultural fusion with Japanese audiences.

The Mikage Project Asean Tour with Asmidar concerts were organised by The Japan Foundation.

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories