Notes and Editorial Reviews
One day, Kent Nagano listened carefully when his wife was singing a children’s song to his daughter. The song told a chapter of Japanese history previously unknown to him: It told of emotion, tenderness, love – and bitterness. The song originates from a period when Japan had to open up to the West. At this time, Japan was suffering from overpopulation, starvation and poverty.
“These songs came to me very late. Though of Japanese heritage, my family came to America at the end of the 19th century leaving me three generations away from Japan. I came down one morning to breakfast and found my daughter listening to these songs on a little recording, and my wife was singing along with the songs to try to teach them to my
In Japan, the songs that enchanted Nagano are commonly known as “Shoka”, or school hymns. They are based on famous Japanese poetry, but are composed in the Western musical style. The songs’ haunting, mysterious beauty have continued to entice all generations since their creation making them actual and vividly relevant to our modern world. Read less
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