Collaborations in Japan
 Working with the people you see here has provided some of the high points of my life in Japan.

Roba no Ongakuza

One of the most creative approaches I've seen to blending early European music with playful theatricality is presented by "Roba Musical Theater". Dance, puppetry, mime, etc. add a gleeful element to this group, which has also mastered dozens of medieval and Renaissance instruments. Their arrangements of traditional tunes and original composition in traditional styles are inspired. 

Roba no Ongakuza

Capriol, Early Music and Dance Research Society
Dedicated to the research and practice of European Renaissance and Baroque dance, these locals can cut a caper with the best. I was delighted to be able to add to their repertoire  with a workshop on English sword dancing, and another on tabor pipe and bones. Associated with the dancers are some fine players of bagpipes, flutes, viols, etc. Occasionally all of this is folded into a theatrical theme, costumed up and put to the stage.
Grego on psaltery and tabor pipe,
              Renaisance music and dance with Capriol, Tokyo
E.M.D.R.S. performing a "Mother Goose" themed productrion

Grego and Capriol,Comedia and
                planchette puppets
This shot features "planchette" puppets in a Comedia flavored show

Kodo logo 

Wadaiko, the Japanese group drumming tradition that sometimes resembles martial arts, has practitioners all over Japan and the world. One world famous group of these extreme drum nuts sets a standard others dream of attaining. Kodo hosts a gathering on Sado island, their home base, every Summer. Earth Celebration welcomes some of the world's greatest musicians, with a resounding emphasis on percussion. In the shadow of the giants a Fringe Festival offers other earthlings a gorgeous environment for revelry. While participating in the Fringe I found myself suddenly involved in an onstage jam with Kodo member Saito Hideyuki, and later in a concert on the island I was joined by member Subasa. Life can be good.

Tezukuri Gakki no Kai, The Handmade Instrument Club
Dozens of people in the greater Tokyo area, mostly housewives, have made their own instruments. There are Hackbretts (hammered dulcimers), plucked zithers, and plenty of little gadgets, but the main emphasis is on bowed psalteries.  50 psalteries playing together sounds like wind in the trees of a magic garden.  Some members are pictured with instigator Kato-san and Grego with Mazja.
Grego, psaltery puppet, Tezukuri Gakki
            no Kai, Japan

An offshoot from that circle of friends took root up north in Akita, where they now teach and perform. They are
Tezukuri Gakki Esnemble: Psalter Friends

Mishall, dance

American dancer Mishall has studied her art in the U.S., South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the middle east. Your eyes and heart are helpless under her spell.

For years the man on the crest of the modern primitive world music wave here, Mishall's husband Goro has inspired a generation of dijereedoers. He also plays Arabic drums and flutes, African kalimbas, and makes some of his own instruments. At the show pictured left and below we're joined by Amamania on strings and hand drums. Dreamy, lovely stuff.

Goro on Nay, Grego on psaltery

 Butoh dance was originated by Kazuo Ohno, Tatsumi Hijikata, and his wife Akiko Motofuji. I was invited to perform with her and a group of her students at a gallery opening. Rehearsal started with the group stuff. Then, while the rest continued their work, she and I worked up a solo dance. She invoked birth, flowering, maturity, and life's end, all to four tunes I played on my psaltery. She was an easy, inspiring partner to accompany.

 On opening night she called to say she was in the hospital, resting from a heart attack, and to please go on without her. I was later told that the life she danced in our rehearsal was the final dance of her life. It was gorgeous. She was gorgeous.

Canadian Terry Press and his Japanese wife Nobuko  perform a style of mime rare in it's depth and impact. Doing the musical accompaniment for their production of "Little Life Story" was a delightful and moving experience.

Little Life, Terry press, Nobuko Press

Stress Busters
Musical madman Takapaachi has his fingers on the pulse of the fun side of music.
What do you get when you cross a trumpet full of bad jokes with a music-puppetician?
Whatever it is, it's good for what ails ya.
Stress Busters, Grego, Takapaachi


She'a a popular comedienne (and vocalist) from the Kansai area.
After doing a silly little skit, Mazja played a duet with her in this episode of her
search for the perfect back-up band on the weekly channel 4 TV show "Utawara"
Tomochika sings, Grego, psaltery
                puppet dreambird Mazja, Tokyo Tower

Mr. Masashi Okuda
Mime, physical theater, and soap bubble wizard, he has added his unique charm to many a show.
This photo was taken during a charity tour of Myanmar (Burma) refugee schools sponsored by the
Korean Family Concert series.

Okuda, Grego