Listen to Haruki Murakami: A Night of Good Music

I am a self-confessed Haruki Murakami fan and this February and March 2018, fans from Manila are treated with the first Haruki Murakami Festival in Manila. Presented in three distinct events, ‘Talk about Murakami’, ‘Watch Murakami’, and ‘Listen to Murakami’, each event showcases not only Murakami’s works but also pop culture references so evident in his novels.

The ‘Talk’ event was a lecture discussing Murakami’s stories, writing style, themes, and influences, while ‘Watch Murakami’ were film showings featuring two adaptations of his stories, the novel Norwegian Wood and the short story, Tony Takitani.

“Listen’ is a concert featuring jazz, classical, and 1970s pop music. The other 2 events I missed, anyway I have already watched the film Norwegian Wood when it was first released and Tony Takitani. The concert was the most interesting for me so off I went.

Date: March 23 (Fri) 8PM, March 24 (Sat) 8PM
Where: Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC Arts Center

Listen to Haruki Murakami: Jazz, Classical Music, and The Beatles feature the songs mentioned in Haruki Murakami’s novels. Curated by Professor Junichi Konuma, celebrated jazz pianist Hiroko Kokubo and her trio, the 1966 Quartet, Filipino pianist April Merced-Misa, actor David Ezra, collaborate to bring Murakami’s world to life. This concert was previously performed in Singapore, Seoul, and Tokyo.

Haruki Murakami Festival

If you’re like me who researched about the songs that Murakami characters obsessed about, then this concert will be met with extreme nostalgia. From the first rendition of Norwegian Wood by the 1966 Quartet and a Norwegian Wood finale with the entire ensemble, it was a night we feed our hungry souls with the most delicious food – music.

I have watched YouTube videos of the 1966 Quartet before so I know how good they are. I don’t usually watch artists who do covers but as long as they can inject their own style to what they cover, then it’s perfectly fine. Turning pop music into classical is extremely cool and the quartet has huge talent. In the concert, their talent is highlighted as they collaborate with Merced-Misa. Their trio of piano, violin, and cello for a rendition of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Trio in B-Flat Major, op 97 or simply The Archduke Trio (as mentioned in Kafka on the Shore), is the highlight of my night.

Ms. Hiroko Kokubu’s energy on stage is a joy to watch, her dynamism rubbed off to us audiences and we find ourselves clapping along. I felt I learned what constitutes jazz just listening to her improvisations of Penny Lane, and South of the Border. Equally spirited are percussionist and drummer, Mr. Tappi Iwase and bassist, Mr. Yoichi Yahiro, both their groove and rhythmic sense is outstanding.

Cast of Listen to Haruki Murakami: Jazz, Classical, The Beatles

It was a great night full of good music. And to borrow from Murakami who believed there are many people who uses music as fuel to recharge their appetite for life, it is my hope that good music will always be accessible. After all, no one wants to get hungry.

*This concert was brought to us the Japan Foundation Manila.

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