A hill with a view of the port – what changes and what remains

港の見える丘 ー 変わりゆくもの、そして残るもの

While attending Yokohama International School (YIS) from elementary school to high school, I walked the 20-minute walk from Ishikawacho Station on the Keihin-Tohoku/Negishi Line to Minato no Mieru Oka Park, carrying a heavy American-made cello case. I still clearly remember climbing it many times. (Looking back on it now, it may have been a good workout!) Passing through Motomachi, I climbed the stairs on the road next to the foreign cemetery (some of the steps are slanted, so be careful when it rains, so be careful) and take a breather. We arrived at the top with a huff of laughter. There is no convenient Minatomirai Line that connects directly to the Toyoko Line or Fukutoshin Line, and the area called ``Americayama Park'' is a wasteland-like area surrounded by a fence, and entering that area is not allowed among friends. It was treated as a test of courage. When I walk through Amerikayama Park now, I'm just a little happy that I know what the ``wasteland'' was like in the past. I feel like I'm in the midst of changing history in the same area.

In this column, I would like to talk about the Yokohama area where I grew up since elementary school and my musical activities. Now, as a cellist, I mainly play classical music, but I also have the opportunity to play a wide range of music genres, including tango, jazz, popular songs, and popular music. In particular, it was Shanty Dragon 3 (trio), which is still active as a trio, that gave him the opportunity to play genres other than classical. Although the name of the group was different at the time, I had the opportunity to perform with the trio's Akemi Hayashi (piano/composer/arranger) and Toku Kongo (saxophone) since junior high school and high school, and they also appeared on the CD "Yumefuta Yoru". We performed together when we were in high school. I feel very honored to be able to perform with these two people who I have known as my teachers for many years.

My attachment to the Motomachi area has grown especially strong in recent years, as the campus of Yokohama International School will be moving to Honmoku from January 2022, and my father, who loved the Motomachi area, passed away in 2017. It's coming. His father, Morgan Gibson, was a poet and a university professor of literature in Japan and the United States for many years. After his death, he and his mother, who is a university professor of literature, translated some of his father's poems into Japanese, and recited them along with improvisations at Shanti Dragon 3's live performances. I have fond memories of my father, who loved the Motomachi area, and chatting with him over giant lattes at Starbucks.

(Minato no Mieru Oka Park) Provided by: JapanTravel.com

I was originally born in Michigan, USA, and began studying cello using the Suzuki method when I was 4 years old. I moved to Japan when I was 6 years old, and attended a public elementary school in Mihama Ward, Chiba City for about 2 years. It was an area surrounded by housing complexes, and there were almost no foreigners, so I remember my father and I both being extremely conspicuous. After that, I decided to move to Yokohama and attend YIS because I wanted to improve my English skills. At that time, Yokohama (especially around Bluff) was like New York to me. There are students from various countries in my class, and I hear a wide variety of English. Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, England, China, South Korea, Japan, etc. It was a blessed environment where I was able to come into contact with various types of English. The English spoken by teachers and students each had their own unique characteristics. (For example, when my teacher from New Zealand pronounced "disk," it took me a while to understand that it meant "desk.")Now that I think about it, I learned more from this experience than just from the curriculum. There were many things. In terms of music, he started learning to read music from the Suzuki method, which emphasizes playing by ear, and gradually became able to play in ensembles, despite repeated confusion.

When I was in the upper grades of elementary school, I also became fond of pop music such as GLAY and Spitz, so I decided to learn bass guitar in my neighborhood, so I called and visited a class I found on Town Page. (Internet searches were not yet popular at that time.) Unfortunately, I did not improve my bass guitar skills and ended up having a fever for a while, but I decided to learn solfege and piano in the same class, and that is where I met Akemi Hayashi for the first time. It was. As a piano student, I think even Beyer was slow and quite lousy, but I was invited to play jazz with Mr. Kongo and play original songs, and I performed at jazz shops in the Kannai area. As a culmination, we performed together in a concert at the Yokohama Museum of Art, which included readings. For me, who only knew classical music when it came to playing the cello, improvising while listening to chords was a shock that changed my language, but even though I didn't understand the theory at all, I had an ear that had grown up with the Suzuki method. It may have helped. I was lucky to have the opportunity to not only attend a staged recital, but also to perform at a jazz cafe or hall early on.

Performers create music together with the audience, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, all events such as live concerts at jazz bars where personal interaction is possible and salon concerts that include food and drink have been canceled or scaled down. I feel very sorry for that. Humans are creatures of habit, and habits create culture. I would like to continue my efforts as a performer (while paying attention to infection control measures) so that such customs, culture, and art can continue into the future.

Shanty Dragon 3 is mainly active in the Yokohama area, but their theme is "songs" that transcend genres. I believe that every culture in the world has some kind of song, and I think songs are something that you grow up with in a culture and end up humming without even knowing it. The way these songs were born and raised is connected to the new songs that are born at each performance. I believe that the things that are put into a song are inherited by the performer and the audience, such as the way the song is sung that cannot be explained by just the musical score, the timing, or the scenes that come to mind when singing. The ``variations'' format, which is often used in jazz, is often used in Shanti Dragon's performances. Through improvisation, the songs are unraveled and tied together, thoughts come to mind, instruments intertwine with each other, and then the song returns to the simple song it started with. When the audience claps their hands or talks about things they remember through the songs, the music influences each other and leads to the next stage.

I would be very happy if I could continue to listen to songs beyond genres in my performance activities, cherish that inspiration, and deliver something that touches the hearts of the people who listen to them. As the place where I grew up from elementary school to high school, Yokohama's history has had a tangible and intangible impact on me. While taking a walk and admiring the ever-changing cityscape, there are moments when I suddenly remember the past. I wish I could perform like that. We want to cherish what is changing and what remains.


Shanti Dragon Trio
Shanti means "inner peace" in Sanskrit. The dragon is not the dragon as it is perceived in the West, but a dragon that symbolizes auspicious power in Asia and is the god of water.
Shantey Dragon was originally a duo consisting of pianist Akemi Hayashi and saxophonist Toku Kongo, but when cellist Christopher Satoshi Gibson, who was also Hayashi's piano and solfeggio student, joined, the group was written as Shantey Dragon 3.
The trio began with the Yokohama Museum of Art Hall concert at Yokohama Art Live 2003, and the recording of the CD "Yume Futa Ya" composed by Akemi Hayashi in the same year. In addition, they have been actively involved in volunteer performances at facilities for the disabled.
Christopher Gibson left Japan to attend a university in the United States, putting the trio on hold for a while, but after returning to Japan and working in various scenes, he rejoined Shantae Dragon in 2019. They resumed activities as Shantae Dragon 3.

Akemi Hayashi (piano, composition and arrangement)

Pianist, composer and arranger. Born and living in Yokohama.
From an early age, she started playing the piano and electronic organ, and studied piano under her relatives, Jo Matsutani and Midori Matsutani. Under their guidance, she was exposed to a wide range of music, from classical to contemporary music, pop, and jazz, and began performing while still a student at a music college.
After graduating from a music college, he worked at the Yokohama Contemporary Music Academy and other institutions, as a music school instructor, and as a solfeggio instructor for the Yokohama Municipal High School Brass Band, before establishing Maple Piano School (Isogo-ku, Yokohama). Utilizing his experience as a piano instructor and player, he strives to teach the next generation of piano players, from children 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 performances are also actively participated in.

Christopher Satoshi Gibson (cello)

Born in Michigan, USA. Started playing the cello at age 4. Participated in summer programs at Tanglewood, Indiana University, and Interlochen while in high school. After graduating from Yokohama International School, entered Yale University in 2005, double majoring in philosophy and political science.
While studying at Yale, she passed an audition with cellist Aldo Parisot and studied cello under Ole Akahoshi, who was Pierre Fournier's youngest student and Janos Starker's assistant for many years, at the Yale School of Music. She also studied chamber music under Wendy Sharp at the same school. In 2009, she won a prize at the Yale School of Music FOM competition. In the winter of 2012, when she won a prize at the International Association of Performers' Newcomers Audition, she received praise from violinist Shigemichi Kawabata, one of the judges, for her "performance that allows you to enter the world of the music."
In 2017, under the auspices of the NPO Emotion in Motion, she held the “BACH Solo” unaccompanied cello recital series at the Minato Mirai Small Hall, Tiara Koto, Tokorozawa Muse, and Suntory Hall “Blue Rose”. She has performed with violinist Ikuko Kawai on TV Tokyo’s “100 Years of Music” program recordings and concerts, as well as at BLUE NOTE TOKYO (2020), Cerulean Tower Noh Theater (2019), and Mitsukoshi Theater (2018). She is active mainly in Tokyo, Kamakura, Nagano, and other areas.

Kongo Toku (saxophone)

He started playing the saxophone at the age of 12, and studied under Hisatoshi Muta (President of the Japan Band Directors Association, former head of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Band) and Makoto Suda (Professor at Musashino Academia Musicae). He joined Yanagisawa Wind Instruments Co., Ltd., one of the three largest saxophone manufacturers in the world.
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.
He has performed with top Japanese musicians, musicians from the UK, Italy, Switzerland and France, calligrapher Suisen Nakatani, dancer Kazuo Ohno, actor Stiart Burnham Atkin, reciter Akira Kodama, Important Intangible Cultural Property Holder Bokusei Mochizuki, and many others, often across genres. He also teaches a citizen saxophone ensemble that plays mainly Bach chorales.
Several CDs and DVDs have been released so far.

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