Makoto Nakura is one of the world's greatest marimbists, and he is on a mission on a mission to expand the marimba repertoire. For many years, Nakura has been producing a recital series under the theme of “Wood and Forest.” Makoto created this series because he thought it would only be natural to let the marimba play pieces about wood and forest. Each composer he commissions takes inspiration from different ideas centered on this theme; for instance, a Mayan mythology, paintings of forest by French and German painters and Whitman’s poem about the trees in the South, so on. For Bunch’s duo, the composer wrote for the world biggest vibraphone which is only available in Japan. This is the first recording of the instrument.
This world premiere recording is a collection of the works he commissioned from five of the finest American composers. The pieces were recorded at the beautiful St. Viator Kitashirakawa Church in Kyoto, Japan and at the world-famous American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City.
A FEW NOTES ON THE PIECES:
Winik/Te’ (wood/men) for Solo Marimba by Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez is inspired by the Mayan gods Hurricane and Heart-of-Sky who carved men out of wood, hoping that their new creation would “…walk about, multiply and live a purposeful life.”
The Trees Where I was Born for Solo Marimba by Jacob Bancks and is a meditation on the poetic imagery in Walt Whitman’s ode to the American South, O Magnet-South.
Duo for Viola and Vibraphone by Kenji Bunch, the only work on the album for vibraphone, is a three movement work with the titles Night, Dawn and Birds.
Forest Shadows for Solo Marimba by Robert Paterson, a composer and percussionist, is inspired by nature scenes by nineteenth-century French painters such as Theodore Rousseau and landscape painters like Caspar David Friedrich.
Arbor Una Nobilis (“Noblest of trees”) for Marimba and Violin, also by Jacob Bancks, is based on the chant Crux fiddles, an ancient hymn for Good Friday.
After the Forest Fire for Marimba, Flute and Cello by Michael Torke is inspired by the title's theme, and is the only trio on the album.
Makoto Nakura, marimba, vibraphone and percussion
Jesse Mills, violin
Kenji Bunch, viola
Wilhelmina Smith, cello
David Fedele, flute
All of the pieces on this album are world premiere recordings commissioned by the ISGM New Music Commissioning Fund for Makoto Nakura.
MORE ABOUT MAKOTO NAKURA
In 1994, I moved from my native Japan to New York City, becoming the first marimbist to win first prize in the prestigious Young Concert Artists International Auditions. My critically acclaimed performances around the world have included venues in London, Berlin, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. In the U.S., I have performed for audiences in 41 of the 50 states, with orchestras such as the New York Chamber Symphony, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and, as a recital soloist, my list of appearances includes Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, New York’s 92nd Street Y, and Washington’s Kennedy Center. I have performed numerous times with the American Ballet Theater in New York City and have appeared as a guest artist with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. I am a dedicated champion of the music of our time and many leading young composers have written pieces for me. It is my mission to explore and expand the possibilities of the marimba and to demonstrate what an exciting and provocative vehicle it offers to composers.
Born in Kobe, Japan, I began to play the marimba at the age of eight. I earned both Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Musashino College in Tokyo and continued my studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where I was named an Associate. I have been featured on CBS News Sunday Morning and my recitals have been widely televised by KBS (Korea) and NHK (Japan), as well as on many radio stations. My recent honors include a National Arts Festival New Artist Award from the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs, the Barocksaal Award from the Aoyama Music Foundation in Kyoto and the BMI/Carlos Surinach Fund Marimba Commission.