2020 Tokyo Olympics

So here we are in the midst of the "2020" Tokyo Olympics...

I've just had a birthday and so many friends have been sending me their birthday wishes. If it weren't for the pandemic I'd be traveling to Europe or America for the summer so I really miss celebrating with friends in person but still, all the messages have really made me very happy. Along with the birthday wishes though, everyone has also asked how I was feeling about the Olympics. It seemed that everyone watching from abroad was enjoying them but was also concerned how we, who live in Japan, were taking it all in. So, I thought it would be interesting to write what has been going on through the minds of many Japanese. Or at least, what my experience of it has been.
(WARNING - this is a very lengthy blog. I must have had lots of thoughts on the subject!)

10 Years

March 11th. It's now 10 years since the massive earthquake and tsunami had hit Japan.
Because of covid, memorials have had to be limited and I decided to stay at home and watch a livestream ceremony held at our local shrine in Kamakura.

I was hoping to go to Kamaishi, one of the places which was hard hit, which I had gone to several times for volunteer work for the 10th anniversary but decided it was not a good idea as we're still in the midst of this pandemic here in Japan.

Every TV channel was showing programmes related to the earthquake and tsunami and I happened to watch one whilst eating breakfast. It was about a young couple who had lost their 3 children. They talked how they almost separated as the pain was too great, how the wife would cry and yell at her husband everyday, blaming him for not being able to save them. After a year she started to withdraw within herself and would never leave the house. She said it was too painful to even look at the photo (which was found in the rubble) of her children as it reminded her of happy times which would never come back again. The husband is a builder/carpenter and everyday he would go to work and take it day by day. He started to do volunteer work, visiting schools and worked with children. He wondered whether it was better for both of them to separate but he decided not to as he thought that their children would be sad if they did. 3 years pass and one day the wife is able to see for the first time how her husband is busily filling his days with work, crying and working at the same time, and how she was doing nothing. She gradually is able to live her life again and in the end of the programme showed how she was a part of the community, laughing with friends, laughing with her husband.
If I had met her in the street I would have not known what pain they had gone through.
And this is just one single story. So many people lost someone in that tsunami and if they hadn't they have had to live with the guilt of not losing anyone.

It's a been a very sad day.
10 years. We really mustn't forget how 3/11 had impacted so many lives.

Bach's Goldberg Variations Part Ⅱ

So, practice on the Goldberg Variations goes on.

One of the reasons that it seems never-ending is that there are so many ways to interpret each variation. There are almost no markings in the score that Bach wrote which means that tempo, dynamics, style are all up to the performer. It truly tests the player's imagination which is part of the fun but also often leaves a dilemma.

I have 4 CDs of the Goldberg Variations - one being the historic 1955 recording by Glenn Gould which I love - and they all are tremendously inspirational. I am in awe of all of them but it's interesting how I still have to search for how "I" want to play them. I have stolen some styles from some of them but there are some variations that none of them seem to be right for me. The trouble is it's not easy to find the way which I want to play. So, the search continues!

One of the things that has come out of learning this piece in depth is that I can truly appreciate the greatness of it. I recently had a chance to hear a friend perform it in concert and could really enjoy every single variation in detail - note to note. It was a very interesting experience to hear the piece so differently and also confirm how "I" interpret it.

Although it seems like a never-ending process I feel very privileged to be able to work on such an amazing piece.

I read this quote just yesterday which seemed very fitting for how I feel about working on these variations.Giacometti puts it in words beautifully.

“Everything gains in grandeur every day, becomes more and more unknown, more and more beautiful. The closer I come, the grander it is, the more remote it is.” Alberto Giacometti

Bach's Goldberg Variations Part Ⅰ

One of the projects that I had started when this pandemic began, was to really tackle Bach's Goldberg Variations. "The Goldberg Variations" are a set of 30 variations set on an Aria theme. It takes over 40 minutes to play it through without repeats and nearly an hour and a half if one were to do all the repeats! It's truly amazing how Bach was able to conjure up so many ideas from one single theme.

Because it was meant to be played on a double keyboard harpsichord it is actually technically quite tricky to play on the piano. Each variation is quite short though (1~4 minutes long) so I had been playing it as a warm up piece for ages, choosing a few of the variations before starting my main practice.

Because it's such a vast work (46 pages of music just to give you an idea) and quite hard to bring up to performance level I had never considered playing it in a concert. Therefore I had never really attempted to really go into depth with it nor memorize it.

But when the pandemic started and I had to cancel all my concerts and my teaching and was stuck at home, I decided this would be the time that I should attempt to bring it up to a level which I would be satisfied with. This has been a true blessing as it really kept me occupied! AND it still does!

The more I work on it, the more there is to do! It seems never-ending!


I cannot believe that it's already February! I thought that 2021 had just started!
I don't know why, but I'm finding it really hard to write my blog although there are so many things that I think of writing about.

Sadly this pandemic doesn't seem to be going away soon so even though we started 2021 with a great deal of hope, I guess we just have to continue to live with it until we feel safer.

We can't be grateful enough for the doctors and nurses, medical staff and essential workers who continue working for us under immense pressure. In Japan, we haven't had active ways in showing our gratitude which I'm quite sad about. Wished we had a way to show how much we appreciate them like in cities in the US and countries in Europe.

Hoping for a Happy 2021!

Happy New Year!!!

I know that most people are just glad that 2020 is over. Can't think of a year when the "New Year" was so welcomed. Who would've thought that 2020 would turn out like it did!!!What a year! Just hoping that 2021 will be better year for all of us!

Wishing everyone a healthy and peaceful year to come!

A Prayer

How the world has changed...
Who would have thought that 2020 would turn out like this? And to see that our whole world could be this fragile.

Japan has been in a "state of emergency' for nearly two months. It was a sort of "loose" lock down but the number of new cases have gone down so most of the prefectures (except for 5 ) have started to open up although very gradually.
I've been talking with many friends in Britain and America where the situation is still not good and it is hard to see when this will all end. I have very close friends working as doctors which is even more worrying and I pray that they are safe and are able to cope with what they have to face every day.

I wanted to show my gratitude to all the brave people working in the hospitals and everyone who have been working to make it possible for our societies to keep on functioning.
Here is Jacob Arcadelt's "Ave Maria" as a prayer in hope that you are all kept safe and that there will be peace with you.

Thank you, thank you, for all your work.

Happy 2020!

Wishing everyone a very happy and peaceful New Year!
May there be less hatred and more love around the world...

Merry Christmas!

Wishing every one a very blessed Christmas!!

Can't believe that my last post was New Years'!!!
I will try to be better with my posts next year!!


Wishing everyone a very peaceful and Happy New Year!
My theme for this year is going to be "Joy".
I hope that it can be paired with "Hope" for all those in difficult situations...