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Arts News

Kitaro brings elevating audio-visual experience to San Diego

REGION — Japanese performer and composer Kitaro will bring an elevating audio-visual experience to North America with his performance of “Kojiki and The Universe” next month in San Diego, the first stop on his upcoming West Coast tour.

The show weaves tracks from his most recent album, “Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai (Volume 5),” with photographs and real-time video of deep space. The show was developed with material provided by NASA and Kyoto University.

The performance is 8 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Garfield Theatre, 4126 Executive Drive in La Jolla. Tickets start at $55.

The New Age artist spoke about his work:

Q: How long have you been interested in astronomy/space?

A: Ever since I was child I have been very interested in space and the universe. I looked to the stars and wondered what was out there. Was it intelligent life?  Was there ever water on Mars?  The solar system, the planets and their relationship to Mother Earth has always fascinated me.  Now, I have an opportunity to explore and work with space by creating sound waves through it.

Q: What was the inspiration to merge your music with these visuals?

A: Visual images of the universe have many different elements: color, movement, etc. By using a telescope, we can actually see the stars and Nebula in the universe.

I believe that the distant images of the universe and music have similarities in that they both inspire our imagination. In 2012, the first annual solar eclipse to be observed in Kyoto, Japan in 282 years was going to occur. Journalist Ms. Sachiko Tamashige brought me to Kwasan Observatory at Kyoto University to meet Professor Kazunari Shibata. He gave me a tour of the observatory including the oldest actively used telescope in Japan, the Sartorius telescope.

It was at this time that I agreed to perform a collaboration at Kyoto University on the day of the annual solar eclipse in May 2012. It was then that Kojiki And The Universe, an experiment in merging music and movies of the universe was born.

Q: Why did you choose Kojiki as the album to pair with these visuals?

A: Kojiki is a well-known mythological story in Japan that talks about the creation of this world. Kojiki talks about the creation of Japan, and the Universe as it was known to those people living at that time. I feel that it is only appropriate these visuals of our known universe are presented. This DVD is based on the version of the Kojiki myth written 1300 years ago. The images presented on the DVD were selected based on inspiration from my Kojiki music.

The Kojiki myth is a story closely related to the universe describing the origin of Heaven and Earth. Part of the myth is interpreted as a description of an ancient solar eclipse.

Q: Do you see this concert as a story being told, or more of an assembly of images to convey an emotional or spiritual message?

A: During the concert, each song has a theme and a relating visual. I feel that’s the reason it works so well – because there’s a balance between the music and the visual movements. Music has many meanings. Through music’s sound waves, it communicates and talks to people. This combination of music and sound works well and is very powerful. The concert is definitely the story of the Kojiki myth being told through music and visuals. All of the images we present are important from the viewpoint of astronomical research which makes this film project a useful introduction to modern astronomy.  I hope people will enjoy the presentation and concert as Kojiki interprets the story of the universe with beautiful music.

Q: I know the Ku-Kai series began after 9/11, in the last fifteen years the message of peace seems to still be elusive in the US, what do you do to keep peace in your life and what can we do to bring peace into our collective lives.

A: I see so much conflict and fighting in the world today. I started the Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai series as part of my 88 Temples Peace Bells project. The point of this project is to promote, “inner peace” which I believe will help to bring about World peace. For me, peace comes from the creative process and my connection with nature through my music and photography. I enjoy the recording process and touring the world. It brings me peace to know that my music is a source of enjoyment and often times relaxation for my fans which I hope will bring them inner peace.

Q: Does this new volume 5 deviate at all from the previous volumes in tone, and/or how does it build on the previous volumes musically?

A: For the creative process on the Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai Volume 5, we had a very interesting approach. Each song was created that very day in the studio.

We purposefully didn’t prepare anything in advance and composed songs purely through our inspiration at the moment. Before going into the studio, we tried to clear our minds as we do with meditation.

With clear minds, we entered the recording studio, picked-up on the emotion and energy of the moment and created our first impressions by recording them immediately in the moment.

It pleases me to tell you that the previous 4 volumes of Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai were all Grammy nominated albums. Having said that, Volume 5 is a continuation and expansion of the musical dynamic and melodies of Volumes 1 through 4. Because Volume 1 was released long ago, Volume 5 definitely builds on the musicality of Volumes 1 through 4 and I feel, reflects my growth as an artist and composer.

Q: Wikipedia says you relocated to Sebastopol in 2007, are you still in the North Bay? What led you to live up here (i’m in Santa Rosa) and what are your feelings about it here, what do you like about the region, etc?

A: Yes, I still live in the North Bay. It’s a powerfully spiritual area and I like living here.

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