May 25, 2019

Keeping Fresh in Rites of Spring

Tomoko keeps fresh – by continuing to performing, including duets with her students and musical friends. She also adds to her repertoire with 20th century composers alongside earlier masters. As Tomoko assert, “All performers have responsibility to keep up.”

One example of combining those freshening actions? Performing a duet of the first part of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring: “Adoration of the Earth.”

Back in 1913 when it was first performed publicly, The Rite of Spring was very controversial. The French audience even tossed things into the orchestra pit. 

The piece was commissioned for the Ballets Russes, and was supposed to depict primitive rituals. The underlying tone recalled Russian folk music but the composition also including several novel aspects of rhythm, meter, and especially dissonance. The choreography was also experimental, created by Nijinsky. 

While composing this piece, Stravinsky made a four-hand piano arrangement, which was the first published version of The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky and Claude Debussy played it as a duet in June 1912: the first public performance of the work. 

So it is exciting to follow in the steps of these avantgarde composers to play forward-thinking music. And Tomoko continues to model a fresh attitude to music. It’s her own rite of spring, which she continues throughout the year. As she says, All performers look for a keen sense of the music.” Part of that sensibility is its freshness, which can be timeless. 

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