Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2008-02-14

Samford University's School of Performing Arts will host the only Alabama performance on Music from Japan's Festival 2008 tour Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Brock Recital Hall. The Birmingham concert is also the state debut for the Japanese arts ambassadors.

"Exploring MA: Ancient Winds and Percussion" will feature virtuoso performers on traditional Japanese instruments. Musicians from Japan's legendary Reigakusha Orchestra and percussionist Yasunori Yamaguchi will present a program designed to explore the elusive Japanese concept of "ma."

Meaning sensory space, "ma" has been described as the "powerful silence' in music, or the moments between the notes.

The Samford concert will include music by composers Hiroya Miura, Toshio Nakagawa and Toru Takemitsu, and will feature instruments seldom heard in Alabama.

Wind instruments include a ryuteki, a seven-holed transverse flute with a wide melodic range; a sho, a 17-pipe free-reed mouth organ; a hichiriki, a double-reed vertical flute; and haisho, a pan-flute. The audience will be invited to participate in a demonstration of the ancient gagaku singing tradition.

Music from Japan, founded in 1975 by artistic director Naoyuki Miura, is the leading presenter of Japanese traditional and contemporary music in the U.S. The 2008 Exploring Ma tour begins in New York City's Merkin Concert Hall on Feb. 23 and concludes with concerts at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and Columbia University in New York in early March.

The tour is supported by grants that permit Samford to feature the group at a very reasonable cost, says Samford performing arts dean Dr. Joseph Hopkins.

Admission to the Samford performance is $10 adults, $8 senior adults and $6 students/children. Tickets may be purchased at For information, call (205) 726-2851.

A demonstration lecture will be presented at 10 a.m. on Feb. 26, also in Brock Recital Hall. The public is invited to the lecture free of charge.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.