“Springtime” cherry blossom appreciation at Sakura Japan Fair 2018. Highlight of the evening for me was the Electone performance by Daiju Kurasawa.
Took a break from Far Cry 5 cultist hunting to visit Sakura Japan Fair 2018 at Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay.
This is part of the annual Sakura exhibitions at Gardens, with the programme for this year consisting of several fairs and festivals spread over a few weeks. Other than a glimpse (and a taste) of springtime Japan, what I was looking forward to most was a free Yamaha Electone performance.
On the latter, I have to say I’m quite surprised that an Electone performance was scheduled for opening day. Yamaha has barely been hosting any concert in recent years.
Callout: Check out these tips on how to enjoy Sakura viewing if you’re heading to Japan to see the real stuff!
Yamaha Electone Performance by Daiju Kurasawa
Like I mentioned earlier, the main attraction of Sakura Japan Fair 2018 for me was the half-hour Yamaha Electone performance at 7pm. This was hosted in the Flower Field Hall and when I arrived at 6.45, kids were already seated before the stage.
The opening piece was a lively big band arrangement of Benny Goodman’s Sing Sing Sing, which ever so subtly flaunted the super articulation and soloist abilities of the Electone Stagea. This was followed by a Princess Mononoke arrangement.
If you’re familiar with the instrument, I’m sure you would know that Studio Ghibli compositions are the teiban i.e. standards of any Electone performance.
Electone Arrangements by Daiju Kurasawa
Some personal thoughts on Daiju Kurasawa-san.
This wasn’t the first time I watched him performed live. He was in Singapore nine years ago for a full show, and back then, I was completely impressed by how he manipulated the keyboard percussion abilities of the Electone Stagea for humour and effect.
As for his published scores, I find him equally competent with traditional arrangements as well as truly creative ones. More importantly, for me, his arrangements are generally playable. Challenging but playable given some drilling.
With all due respect, I think some Electone arrangers tend to arrange only for the most talented players. That excludes talentless people like me and in some cases, it could feel really frustrating.
By the way, speaking of creative arrangements, I ought to have recorded Kurasawa-san’s third piece instead of the Ghibli one. This was a “modernised” version of the classic Japanese folk song Yagi Bushi, with a taste of Sakura mixed in.
It might be too experimental for some but I loved it for it was just so classically Electone in style. It also strongly reminded me of Konami’s Ganbare Goemon game series. The whole arrangement would fit so well into an end Goemon stage. (An Impact Stage too)
(Thankfully, someone from the Yamaha team recorded the third piece!)
More Images of Sakura Japan Fair 2018
Sakura Japan Fair 2018 is ongoing till Apr 8, 2018, with various traditional Japanese performances scheduled on different days.
Read my other Singapore festivals posts.