June 5, 2019

Back to Bach

Bach’s music is timeless – and Tomoko has played his compositions much of her life.

Growing up in Japan, Tomoko heard Bach for several reasons. The Japanese government encouraged European classical music as the country was looking to modernize. As nationalism grew, the government would adapt European music, adding Japanese lyrics, and then teaching Japanese children those now patriotic songs.

Tomoko played Bach’s religious music in secondary school and college. Her school, Ferris Academy, was established by the Dutch Reformed Church. Their academic curriculum emphasized classical music training and performance. Tomoko frequently accompanied the school’s choirs during the school’s  religious gatherings. In college, Tomoko was an accompanist at the local Catholic Church, which also valued traditional European religious music such as Bach.

Another case of connecting with Bach occurred when Tomoko performed at the Carmel Bach Festival in 1967. The festival began in 1935, and featured four days of concerts. By the time Tomoko participated, the festival had transformed from an amateur to a professional venue. The whole town supported this event, and even hosted the musicians in their homes.

More recently, in 2013, Tomoko performed Bach’s Capriccio in Bb major on KBAQ (Tempe, Arizona) radio.

And even as a tourist Tomoko perform Bach. When she visited her friend in Florence, Tomoko went to a Medici house museum. There she spied an antique harpsichord. The owners let her play: Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C sharp major. It felt as if the centuries melt away.

Now as a teacher, Tomoko recommends Bach for beginning students; “Bach is a good composer for younger students because of his structure and use of chords.”

Yes, Tomoko continuously goes back to Bach because of his rich and compelling work.

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