Applause pours over her form on a bright stage the color of champagne. Her name is Midori Takada, and her open and bowing stork’s arms hold gold handbells in each hand, playing as she moves amongst cymbals on the stage. This is the music at the culmination of her performance.
An experience like no other on the first day of Moogfest 2018.
An Evening with Midori Takada
by: Andrew Cheek
Takada is a composer, multi-percussionist, and theater artist of high renown who was born in Japan. To open her show Friday she arose from the depths of tranquil silence to move a mallet in gentle circles around a gong, producing a sound like the subtle cries of a woman.
“Form is no other than emptiness. Emptiness is no other than form. Form is emptiness, emptiness it is,” she says at the beginning of her set.
Takada stands in a sound-filled sea of gong’s resonance. The energy of it increases, becoming a wave of brightening sounds that rushes in, shattering rusted particles of spirit.
“There are no eyes. There are no ears. There is no nose,” she continues speaking.
Drawing the skeptic’s attention, the audience stirs. Door squeaks that mirror her speaking voice in Japanese are overlaid onto marimba chords. Seamlessly stitching in an ancient forest of bamboo where she stands in an emerald aura.
Takada has been giving performances for more than forty years, but she has rarely played the United States.
Her musical landscapes are given reverb and subtle modernizations, including echoing modulations produced by technologies unseen from the audience’s seating. A synthesizer, perhaps, hidden offstage. And she stands, in billowy pants, amidst the network of instruments with cymbals like polished shields. And the marimba. And a circle of drums, too, that she plays with enchanting sparkle.
She moves with swift intent across the stage to quietly strike a cymbal. She holds a warrior’s poise, delicate. A philosophy of no philosophy is her enigma. The definition in the contradictions.
Under and over, a stream of blue marimba is weaved. The effect is clear, like high peaks of mountains encircled by many birds. Envision light, billowing clouds given punctuation by the dark thunder coming from Takada’s humming drums, which she plays with intense precision. Shifting amongst rhythms fluidly, she reveals the math beneath the notes. A brief repose follows as her marimba flows like air in spring.
Now there are deep punctuations in the steady rhythm as she shifts fluidly among keys.
There are signatures and blends of style.
A touch of jazz, kind of blue. The sound is imbued with Takada’s references to Asian and African music.
She is light on her feet and lightning with her drumsticks. She is a silver fish in flashing water.
With her concert there is a clear message in each tenderly shaped phrase, each note, and each millisecond of music. She is addressing something and presenting knowledge already within us.
It is a gift.
It has the feel of ceremony that is most appropriate to open the first night of four days of Moogfest 2018.
Andrew Cheek is the Head Writer and Content Coordinator for Beaumonde Arts Agency. He graduated from North Carolina State University and is in process of polishing the manuscript for his children’s novella. With a background in literature and film, and a taste for half-marathons, Andrew’s inspirations range from Virginia Woolf to Wes Anderson to his Adidas running shoes. You can find Andrew on Twitter and LinkedIn.