Akiko Tominaga is an artistic tour guide. The worldly pianist, featured in the Spotlight Series from 2-3pm on Sunday, April 24th in the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts’ TransAlta Pavilion, called the program “Postcards from Afar” to take the audience on a musical journey. The best part is, they don’t even have to leave their seats.
Tominaga herself has experienced many cultures and their sounds. Born in Japan, she grew up moving to the varied musical landscapes of Singapore and the United States, she’s traveled to Europe and Asia and makes her home here in Canada. Along the way, she’s picked up sonic souvenirs that she’ll present to her audience. “Postcards from Afar” is based on pieces inspired from these different cultures,” she notes, citing specific references to Asian, Spanish and French influences. “Through the music, people can experience different cultures.”
Much like travel, the program selections are a feast for all senses. “You can blend and paint with sound,” she states. Highlighting works by French master Debussy, Spanish rhythmist Albeniz and Japanese minimalist Takemitsu, she couldn’t select a wider variety of cultural palates to paint with. “Music goes into the visual arts (in one’s mind)” she nods. “We experience it through audio, but we can feel the temperature, texture and tonality.”
Each culture has evolved in its own musical influences. The listening ear can place the hint of an Asian-influenced scale compared to a more western aesthetic. Tominaga suggests that accessing it starts on the page. “It all comes from the score.” She attests, noting composers’ own interpretive descriptions like ‘celestial light’ and ‘joyously’ on the printed page. “I analyze and study the score, then reflect on what the composer wrote. I see the images. I hear it. I see shimmering gold. By envisioning it, I can play it.”
This particular program has, itself, traveled. Tominaga played it in recital as a part of Roland Graham’s Master Piano Recital Series in Ottawa last month. As it travels, it evolves. “It’s never the same,” she expresses, “The whole dynamic performance experience is exciting. It can only be created in that moment. That unique experience is what attracts me to live music.”
Take the trip with Akiko Tominaga. All travel yields memorable experiences. But, unlike most jaunts abroad, this Spotlight Series show is by donation only and includes one thing you won’t find at any airport… free parking.
Please RSVP if you’re attending the concert on Sunday, April 24.