I went to the monthly free lunch-time recital in Tokyo Opera City yesterday attended mainly by the retired gentlefolk of the area. Usually these are fairly sedate events with a short 30 minute programme of baroque chamber music and no calls of Bravo or enthusiastic encouragement of encores. So yesterday with a programme of Irish music on the agenda I was looking forward to something different.
A talented trio playing violin/fiddle, Irish flute/tin whistle and guitar took the stage and immediately launched in to a lively set of “The Lark in the clear air” and “Tripping up the stairs”. Despite the guitarist marking the beat with some enthusiastic foot-tapping and my own leg picking up the rhythm, the audience remained stony faced and applauded lightly at the end. “Danny Boy” was much more to their liking as they recognised it compared to these unknown Celtic tunes. Another set described as “Jigs” also failed to get much response and the man sitting next to me was dozing by this stage. I just wanted to join in with a tabor or even spoons to transfer some of the energy from the performers to the audience.
The finale was “Amazing Grace” – which is played at many concerts in Japan; so this got some “ahs” and knowing nods indicating that most of the audience were still alive.
I guess Japan is just not ready for something different yet – but if this had been played in an Irish pub then maybe – just maybe – the trio led by Mari Yasui might have generated a more appropriate appreciation of their talents