The Shakuhachi is a Japanese, end-blown, bamboo flute which I am currently learning how to play. In the early 1970's, while I was in college, I became interested in the music of the French contemporary composer Olivier Messiaen. One of the recorded works of Messiaen that I owned at the time was a piece called "The Turangalila Symphony". The recording was an RCA Victor release with a (very familiar) Robert Indiana painting “Love” on the cover. It was a double album and contained another piece of music performed by the same orchestra and conductor (The Toronto Symphony/Seiji Ozawa). The piece was called "November Steps" and was written by the Japanese composer Toru Takamitsu. It was scored for Shakuhachi, Biwa, and Orchestra. Now, I had no idea what a Shakuhachi or a Biwa was at the time, but the music was beautiful, particularly a strange flute-like sound. The Biwa is a Japanese lute-like instrument and the Shakuhachi, as I've stated earlier, is indeed the flute-like instrument on the recording. I discovered, later when I became more knowledgeable on the subject, that the Shakuhachi player on that recording was one of the most skilled Shakuhachi masters of our time; Katsuya Yokoyama.
by my friend Ikuko Miyahara Armandi
Many years went by, and it wasn't until the 1990's that I acquired my first instrument and began playing (and eventually,taking lessons with Michael Furuta.) Since then I've carried my flute with me on my excursions to Montana and Mongolia.
From July, 5 through July 10, 1998, I attended the World Shakuhachi Festival in Boulder Colorado. I have 3 sets of photographs taken at the Festival:
- Photographs of the five Sensei
- Incidental photographs taken during the week
- Incidental photographs from the final ceremony.
More photos can be found at Monty Levenson's Web site.