Saxophonist Kongo Toku: Tracing the scenery of Yamate with music

サックス奏者 金剛督 音楽に乗せて辿る山手の風景

In response to a request for a column on the theme of "Kanagawa and Art," I would like to write about the Yamate district of Yokohama City, which is my favorite walking course and where I often have opportunities to perform.
Before that, let me briefly introduce our music unit.

It's a somewhat unique trio consisting of piano, cello, and saxophone, which I play. The unit name is Shanty Dragon Trio, and each member lives in Yokohama and Kamakura. Each member is involved in various musical activities other than this trio.

Shanti Dragon Trio SHANTI DRAGON 3
Piano composition and arrangement Akemi Hayashi
Cello Christopher Satoshi Gibson
Sax King Kongo

The music we perform is diverse, including songs from around the world and Japan, nursery rhymes, folk songs, pop songs, film music, classical music, originals, and more.

Now, getting back to the topic, there are many historic Western-style buildings remaining along Yamate Hondori, the main street in the Yamate area. Bluff Building 18, Diplomat's House, Berwick Hall, Erisman House, Yamate Building 234, Yokohama City British Building, Yamate Building 111, etc. Each Western-style building has its own unique structure and taste, and many of them also have pianos, so our unit has many opportunities to perform.

Bluff 18 has hosted several summer concerts so far. The piano on display is a 100-year-old piano (Matsumoto Piano, made in Japan), and although it was built with fewer keys to fit the dimensions of Japanese houses at the time, it still has a very lyrical tone that still resonates well. Thank you very much.

At Berwick Hall, we collaborated with music and French cuisine. An instructor at a French cooking class held in Motomachi, Yokohama, prepared small plates for approximately 80 people, including guests, staff, and performers. After the performance, all the customers tasted the food. Of course, we and the staff also ate there, and the food was delicious in the aura of a Western-style building.

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The Erisman residence, a Western-style building next door, is built within Motomachi Park. There is a hall in the basement, and you can perform while looking out at the greenery of the park outside the windows. Last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we held a concert commemorating the 90th anniversary of the opening of Motomachi Park with the number of seats reduced to one-third.

The Yokohama City British Pavilion is a Western-style building beyond the Erisman House, past the Foreign Cemetery, and next to Port View Hill Park. We have performed here many times so far. The garden that can be seen from the windows of the hall is very beautiful, and the rose concert in the adjacent rose garden "English Rose Garden" has become a fond memory. The sweet scent of roses wafting through the air during the performance was wonderful.

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There is Yokohama International School in front of the Yokohama City British Pavilion, and Saint Maur International School near the Erisman residence, and all three members are involved in instrumental music lessons at each school. By the way, Christopher, a member of the Shanti Dragon Trio, graduated from Yokohama International School and then went on to university in the United States.
I mainly play the saxophone, but I have one student who plays the trumpet. After taking lessons for 6 years, I studied abroad, and after returning to Japan, I am working as a successful member of society. Although I am not an expert in brass instruments, by the time my students graduated they were able to play up to Haydn's trumpet concerto. This is the result of the students' efforts.

The history of wind instruments such as trumpets and saxophones in Japan actually began in the Yamate area. British and French troops were stationed in this area as the Meiji era changed, and the military had a musical band. It's a so-called military band.
The military band performed at Yamate Park, and at Myoko-ji Temple, located on the way from Yamate to Honmoku, the Satsuma clan's "Western music trainees" received instruction at the temple from the British Army military band commander stationed in Honmoku, Yokohama. It is said to be the beginning of Japanese wind music.

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My previous occupation was wind instrument manufacturing and research, so the Yamate area has a special meaning for me beyond just performing. Nowadays, Yokohama is changing at a dizzying pace, but the area along Yamate Hondori Street is one of the few places that still retains the atmosphere of old Yokohama. And as expected, the Yokohama Yamate area gives a special tension to our performances.

Shanti Dragon 3 intends to send out even more attractive performances from here in Yokohama.


Shanti Dragon 3 / Shanti Dragon Trio
Shanti means "inner peace" in Sanskrit. Dragon is not a dragon as seen in the West, but a dragon that symbolizes powerful and auspicious power in Asia, and is the god of water.
Shantilly Dragon was originally a duo with piano Akemi Hayashi and saxophonist Kongou, but when cellist Christopher Satoshi Gibson, who was also Hayashi's piano and solfege student, joined the band, it was written as Shantilly Dragon 3.
This trio began with a Yokohama Art Museum Hall concert at Yokohama Art Live 2003, and the same year's recording of the CD/Yumefutaya composed entirely by Akemi Hayashi. In addition, he has been actively involved in volunteer performances at facilities for people with disabilities.
Christopher Satoshi Gibson left Japan and went to university in the United States, temporarily suspending the trio's activities, but after returning to Japan, he has been active in various scenes and rejoined Shanty Dragon in 2019. He resumed his activities as Shantae Dragon 3.

Akemi Hayashi (piano, composition and arrangement)

Pianist, composer, arranger. Born and residing in Yokohama.
From a young age, he began learning the piano and electronic organ, as well as studying piano with his relatives, Mr. Jo Matsutani and Mr. Midori Matsutani. Under the guidance of both of them, he was exposed to a wide range of music from classical to contemporary music, popular music, pops, and jazz, and began performing while attending music college.
After graduating from music college, he worked as a music classroom instructor at Yokohama Contemporary Conservatory and other schools, and taught solfege in the Yokohama City High School brass band, before establishing Maple Piano School (Isogo Ward, Yokohama City). Utilizing his career as a piano teacher and experience as a player, he strives to teach younger students from infants to adults.
He has performed in concerts mainly in halls and live houses in Yokohama and Tokyo, such as concerts sponsored by Yokohama City, Yamate Western Hall (British Hall, Berwick Hall, Bluff 18th Hall), Sankeien "Kangetsu-kai Concert", Yokohama Jazz Promenade, etc. There is. He often performs original songs, and has released more than 100 original songs, including songs recorded on CD. He has released 5 CDs so far.
Volunteer performers also actively participate.

Christopher Satoshi Gibson (cello)

Born in Michigan, USA. Started playing cello at the age of 4. While in high school, he attended a summer program at Tanglewood, Indiana University, and Interlochen. After graduating from Yokohama International School, he entered Yale University in the United States in 2005, double majoring in philosophy and political science.
While in school, he passed an audition with cellist Aldo Parisot and studied cello with Ole Akahoshi of the Yale School of Music, Pierre Fournier's youngest pupil and longtime assistant to Janos Starker. He also studied chamber music with Wendy Sharp at the same conservatory. In 2009, won a prize at the same university's FOM competition. In the winter of 2012, when he won a prize at the International Performers Association Newcomer Audition, he received a compliment from one of the judges, violinist Narimichi Kawabata, who said, ``The performance allows you to enter the world of the song.''
In 2017, the “BACH Solo” unaccompanied cello recital series was held at Minato Mirai Small Hall, Tiara Koto, Tokorozawa Muse, and Suntory Hall “Blue Rose” under the sponsorship of NPO Emotion in Motion. He has collaborated with violinist Ikuko Kawai on TV Tokyo's "100 Years of Music" program recording and concerts, as well as at BLUE NOTE TOKYO (2020), Cerulean Tower Noh Theater (2019), and Mitsukoshi Theater (2018). Active mainly in Tokyo, Kamakura, Nagano, etc.

King Kongo (saxophone)

He started playing the saxophone at the age of 12 and studied under Hisatoshi Muta (President of the Japan Wind Band Instructors Association, former head of the Metropolitan Police Department Band) and Takashi Suda (Professor at Musashino College of Music). Joined Yanagisawa Wind Instruments Co., Ltd., one of the world's three largest saxophone manufacturers.
After working in musical instrument manufacturing, research, instructor, and management positions, he became independent. In 1995, he established Congo Saxophone Studio and began offering saxophone repair, lessons, and performance services. CD /OUR TRIBAL MUSIC released in 1997 won Jazz Life Magazine Best New Artist Award. After being appointed by the Yokohama City Board of Education, he served as an instructor at Yokohama City Minato Commercial High School for four years. In addition to concerts and recordings at Yokohama Museum of Art Hall, Minato Mirai Hall, Kanagawa Prefectural Music Hall, Sankeien, Yamate Western Museum, and other venues, we have also performed at Yokohama City University Hospital and facilities for the disabled and welfare facilities in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Kyushu, and Hokuriku. We are also actively engaged in volunteer performance activities.
So far, he has collaborated with Japan's top musicians, visiting musicians from England, Italy, Switzerland, and France, as well as calligrapher Suisen Nakatani, butoh artist Kazuo Ohno, actor Suchiat Burnham Atkin, and reciter Mr. Kodama. Intangible cultural property holder Park Kiyo Mochizuki, and others. There are also many collaborations that transcend genres. He also teaches a citizen saxophone ensemble that plays mainly Bach's chorales.
Several CDs and DVDs have been released so far.

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