- Nakura - Stylish, Astonishing, Magnificent
- By Giorgio Migliavacca
- The fourth and most successful series of concerts - Classics in the
Atrium - came to a brilliant finale last Friday with a concert by Japanese
marimbist Makoto Nakura. Marimba is a percussion instrument consisting
of tuned bars of hardwood graduated in size and suspended over the open
ends of tuned resonators. The bars, arranged like the keys of the piano,
are sounded by striking with rubber-tipped mallets. Exceedingly popular
in Latin America, Guatemala in particular, marimba was imported into the
New World by African slaves. The resonators of early Marimbas were made
of hollowed gourds, varying from large gourds for the bass tones to
- increasingly smaller ones toward the treble. About 100 years ago,
marimba was improved.Guatemala-born Sebastian Hurtado is credited as the
father of modern marimba. He used wooden boxes shaped like gourds as the
resonators. At the upper end of each box is an opening covered with cured
pig's gut, which, when vibrating, gives a stringlike tone to the instrument.
Such resonators are peculiar to the Central American marimba.
- Commercial marimbas use metal tubes as resonators and have a range
of four octaves Classical repertoire for such a recently perfected instrument
is very limited but this is no handicap for Makoto Nakura, who is also
a skilled arranger. In fact, two selections, Johann Sebastian Bachís
Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001 and Bachís Sarabande, showed how
talented Nakura is both as marimbist and arranger. He also presented a
most endearing Asturias by Isaac Albeniz in his arrangement. These three
items were true highlights of the concert.
- Nakuraís mastery of the instrument is impressive and quite often
breathtaking. His marimba is charmingly
- poised between incisiveness and suavity. The crescendos in the Albeniz
itemwere wonderfully sensitive and his Bach selections intoxicating.
- But this is not all; Nakura presented works by modern composers too.
Canyon by 27 year-old Kevin Putz was particularly impressive in both toccatas
and cadences; but for some reason the central movement entitled "Canyon"
did not rise to the occasion. Or perhaps the cadences and toccatas were
so good that we were spoiled.
- Works by Japanese composers Maki Ishii and Tsuneya Tanabe were well
received, and Philip Armstrongís
- Gaian Pulse was a bravura item in which Nakura delivered dizzying pyrotechnics.
With standing ovations
- begging for encores the artist responded with two ultra-sweet selections
that must have caused more than a
- passing frisson - a magnificent and inspired Ave Maria (Schubert, 1825)
and a first-class Flight of the Bumble Bee (Rimsky-Korsakov).
- The H Lavity Stoutt Community College and its Performing Arts Committee
must be congratulated for a very impressive fourth concert season. The
sponsors too must be thanked for their munificent support. It is both surprising
and pleasing to see how the public responds to the series. Most performances
are well attended and very much enjoyed by the audience. We look forward
to the fifth series.