July 31, 2013 Photoshoot in Amsterdam

“Opening my eyes wide”, something I’ve always been aware about whenever I had a photo shooting in an interview. But this time, I was told by a first-rate photograph to “concentrate on my mouth”, and, when this photograph released the shutter, here was the result.

Yes, this is really me! These pictures were taken in Amsterdam, during a photo shoot for the cover of my new CD, which will be released in October.

Since Holland is the great nation of bicycles, I had the idea to try one out while heading towards the photo session. The only problem was that the bicycles were made to fit the size of normal Dutch people, which was quite huge for me, a Japanese woman! I therefore had a hard time reaching its pedals…

The photographer, Marco Borggreve, takes many pictures of all the famous classical musicians. His first aspiration as a child was to become a guitarist, but after getting injured, he shifted towards photography. Despite working all over the world today, he remains a loving father, and tries to stay in Amsterdam as often as possible to see his three young children as they wake up in the morning.

The pictures he takes not only reflect his warm and sincere character, but also distinguish each artist’s special characteristics and capture their facial expressions at such a perfect timing that a peaceful atmosphere is instantly created.

So, you will be seeing these pictures on programs and flyers of my upcoming concerts… hoping that you will like the new version of Momo Kodama!

With photographer Marco Borggreve and hair/make up artist Ms. Sanne

Marco’s website:
http://marcoborggreve.com

February 22, 2013 An Uncommon Announcement

I found this poster in the metro: “The Day of Depression” at the Folies Bergère (a traditional music hall built in the Belle Epoque in the end of the 19th century). 
Famous actors and singers will each sing a song or read out a poem, the saddest one they know. It is recommended to be clothed as sober as possible. Two guests will be chosen by lottery and win a trip to the town of Lourdes in France (known for its spring waters, and for being a major place of Catholic pilgrimage).

And this event is supported by:
Kleenex tissue paper (to wipe your tears?) Chocolate spread Nutella (in Europe, one says to eat chocolate is good for the health) Fabric softener manufacturer (well it’s true your feelings calm down when you wrap yourself up in a fluffy blanket or sweater)
The French people, who are good at enjoying life, are also able to lightly play out their “depression-prone mood” with just a little humor, and artistically! The French composers Debussy and Ravel as well, when expressing a sad tune, somehow maintained lightness without falling into pathos.

By the way, here is a painting by well-known French painter Manet entitled “the Bar at the Folies Bergere”.

February 11, 2013 The Ever-Important “Pause” in Music and in Life

Heavy snow had been forecast on the day I was to arrive at Tokyo from Paris, and I landed there wearing my fluffy coat, boots, muffler, and a hat as if I were to go to the moon.

On the contrary, the weather in Tokyo was fine. With a temperature of 15℃, I felt somewhat destabilized, but decided to enjoy the blue sky which you can hardly see in Paris, and headed to rehearsal.

Chamber music was scheduled this time at the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno, with the wonderful players of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. The program consisted of the French impressionist composers Debussy, Ravel and Chausson.

The nickname of the string quartet I played with is “Pause Quartet”. For this quartet known for their endeavor to practice, taking the middle, a pause (break), is also very important. And as always, it’s a happy coffee time with lots of rare sweets and snacks.

And! From Mr. Shogo Kariyazaki, one ikebana artist whom I do like and respect, gorgeous flowers were delivered to the backstage room. I often go to Mr. Kariyazaki’s exhibitions in Paris or Tokyo, and get much inspired by his prodigious sensitivity toward what “beauty” means. With this heart-warming work of art of purple tinged deep pink roses, “Shogo Elegant”, the tasteless backstage room lightened up instantly, literally blooming!

I enjoyed playing at the concert as well, and had a party in the backstage afterward with champagne! Cheers!! 

横山さん、小林さん、及川さん、吉岡さん、長谷部さん

February 8, 2013 Happenings at the “Festival Follles Journees de Nantes”

February always arrives together with the music festival of “la Folle Journée de Nantes”!
This music festival gathering tens of thousands of people, and which has also been held for the past few years in Japan at the Tokyo International Forum during the May holidays, originally started in France, in the town of Nantes.

Celebrating its 19th anniversary this year and with its increasing popularity, people are said to stand in line the night before the tickets are put on sale. And I heard the festival clerks served them coffee! (For that matter, the Grand Palais, due to its massive crowds, stayed open 24 hours this week during the last two days of Hopper’s retrospective. Hot drinks, cookies, and vitamins were distributed to the people queuing in the cold wave, in the middle of the night… and as what might have been expected of Paris, the city of fashion, even hand cream was handed out!)

My sister also participated for the first time this year to la Folle Journée, where we were to interpret a piano duo together. But that unexpectedly turned out to be quite an adventure!

As you may as well know, you get to perform several times per day at this music festival. My first concert was scheduled at 2pm. My sister, who had had a concert in Munich, Germany, the previous day, was to arrive at Nantes via Brussels at 11am. However, her flight was cancelled because of the pilot being sick, so she had to change her means of transportation and came by train.

She arrived at the airport of Nantes at, wait for it…10 minutes before the concert started! So both managers got in touch for a while, and well, on our side, we had to make an announcement to the guests in a hurry, explaining the matter at hand.
While waiting for my sister who had to change into her stage dress on the train and then rush to the concert hall, I performed a couple of solo pieces such as Messiaen.

My sister finally reached the hall 15 minutes late. From her snow boots into stage shoes and…dash! We were able to perform half of the program that had been scheduled. “Both the concert and the happening were great”, according to our guests who got to enjoy the incident! That indeed was a folle journée, “a crazy day”! We will be playing again at the same music festival this coming May, in Tokyo and Biwako.
Hoping to see you there!

February 1, 2013 Japan in Paris?

Paris was unusually covered with snow this January. In situations like these, Paris people often go to exhibitions in order to warm up their hearts. What greatly impressed me this month was, well, all from Japan!

The first event was the Hiroshige/Van Gogh Exhibition held at La Pinacothèque in Place de la Madeleine. Their pictures were put in comparison in one of the buildings, a project to see how much Van Gogh was influenced by Hiroshige. Hiroshige’s delicate lines are, façon de Van Gogh, violently expressed…

Well that indeed was interesting in itself, but I was especially touched by an alignment of Hiroshige’s Ukiyoe that I saw in the next building. His concern toward even the smallest details, a mystery like a meditation through nature. And the hospitality and kindness of the Japanese — I thought I was being impressed many a time because of the very fact I was Japanese, but it came out the foreign people around me also were in admiration.

Hiroshige was born in 1797, the same year as Schubert. Schubert expressed the theme of “the traveler” through his music and lieder, just as Hiroshige in Japan praised the beauty of nature in his country.

The second event was at the Louvres, where a film about the sculptor Susumu Shingu was screened. Shingu-san, called the “Poet of the wind”, is a relative on my mother’s side. On the ceiling of the Kansai airport, in front of Hermes in Ginza, and the bell of Kunitachi College of Music… his works which go round and round riding upon the wind can be found all around the world. Some of them have recently been exhibited at the park of the Tuileries in Paris.

“Sinfonietta of Light” in the park of the Tuileries

Shingu-san, in his childhood, is said to have been doing all sorts of experiments with water even in his bath, or played with the wind whenever he went outside. At the present time and 70 years of age, he’s only turned “seven years old times ten”, and he is the kind of man who constantly has a dream and makes it true, says his friend and architect Renzo Piano. His current dream is the “Breathing Earth” (an art center created merely with wind-power). Wind energy — an exhibition hall, a theater, a concert hall, a restaurant… a place like heaven for artists. When you actually sit in front of his works, and, according to the direction or the force of the wind, watch how they move as if they were dancing and diving in various tempos, or flying, you eventually feel like becoming one with nature. And you even get to “see” the wind, which you had so far only felt as “cold” or “strong”, in a different way. Come to think of it, catching a sense of what can’t be seen, perceiving the expanse of nature — that means there’s something in common with music there!

http://breathing-earth.de/

http://susumushingu.com/

With Shingu-san 

January 1, 2013 HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

I wish you from my heart a very inspired New Year!
At the beginning of each year, there are always new things which I plan to do.
This year, I decided to start writing a very simple diary – mon « petit journal » – to share with you the wonderful things I experienced through music… and all things arround music which are equally important.

Momo Kodama

To my Japanese friends:

明けましておめでとうございます。

皆様にとって、新しい一年がひらめきに満ちた年でありますよう、心からお祈り 申し上げます。

一年のスタートにはいつでも、「今年こそ!」と思うことが沢山ありますが、今 年はその中から、簡単な"お便り"を始めさせていただくことにしました。

色々な場所で体験したこと、思ったことなどを、この場で皆さんにお伝えできれ ばと思っています!

児玉桃

外国育ちの姉と私に、母が「日本の伝統を伝えなくては」と、お正月にはいつもおせ ちとお雑煮を作ってくれます。
As my sister and I grew up in Europe, on New Year day, our mother would cook the traditional Japanese dishes to preserve our tradition.
Here are some examples of foods used in preparing Osechi-ryōri (御節料理 or お節料理), traditional Japanese New Year dishes:

Zōni (雑煮), a soup of mochi rice cakes in broth. First thing to eat on New Year day.
Konbu (昆布), seaweed – symbolizes joy
Gobō (牛蒡 or ゴボウ), burdock root – longevity
Kuro-mame (黒豆), black soy beans – health
Kazunoko (数の子), herring roe – fertility
Tazukuri (田作り), dried anchovies – abundant harvest

Each dish has its meaning-this is how 2013 started !