Kiyomi Niibori (a member of NE & Ladies' Quartet, Master of Arts in Music)

The Niibori Guitar Ensemble (NE) was invited for the International Festival of Guitar, Gryfice-Trzebiatow 2002 took place in Poland, and it caused a all standing ovation.

This story's start was a guitar festival in October 2001 took place in Wroclaw, Poland. A participant of the festival, Yoshimasa Yoshida (a graduate of the Niibori Academy, a chief of the guitar course of MUSIKSCHULE SUEDWESTFALEN in Poland, a guest professor of the Niibori Academy) met Mr. Zbigniew Dubiella who was the chief editor of a Polish guitar magazine "SWIAT GITARY", and they came up an idea to invite the Niibori Guitar Orchestra to Poland.

The festival took place in Mrezezyno, Trzebiatow and Gryfice located on the Baltic from May 19 to May 23, 2002. It was a big festival that produced several guest concerts, competitions, and lectures for 5 days. This time, Mr. Yoshida acted as a judge in a competition, and there were about 120 entries for it including many little children. As each entry played 4 or 5 numbers, the judges worked from the morning to the evening everyday during the festival, and they went to concerts in the nights. They must had really hard days.

This time, NE which consisted of 23 members picked from the Niibori Guitar Philharmonic Orchestra, played in the festival in the name of "the Niibori Guitar Orchestra". In a press conference after the concert, interviewers were very surprised to know that the parent unit was a guitar orchestra consisted of about 120 pieces and NE was just part of the orchestra.

Our concert took place in St. Mary's Church in Gryfice from 8 p.m. on May 20 as an "Exceptional concerto". On the day before our concert, we went to a guitar solo concert and a flamenco concert. But the church's acoustics was not well-balanced, and the middle and the low tones and the arpeggio couldn't be heard in the rear seats. Even hand clapping of the flamenco were difficult to listen if it was a little far from a microphone. There were audience who left there during the concerts, and those concerts ended rather quietly. We felt audience in Poland was silent as well as audience in Japan. We felt anxious about our concert on the following day, and we had a meeting to prepare PA immediately.

On the day of our concert, our rehearsal time was used to adjust PA. As there were not enough microphones, only 4 microphones were set to catch the whole sound. For the solo performance by the cembalo guitar, 2 microphones were prepared for the low tone and the high tone each. For the men's sextet and the ladies' quartet, the location of microphones and the volume balance were carefully adjusted.

And our stage was coming up really soon. The church was full of audience, and we could see some photographers and TV cameras. Other guest performers were really excellent musicians with a plenty of artistic ability and experience and high technique. But this time, we had some new teenage players in addition to the matured. We became nervous more and more. At that time, some words crossed my mind. Our music director, Dr. Hiroki Niibori said "NE's sales point is freshness! I am convinced of our success, but if we get an enthusiastic all standing ovation, that'll be a SUPER SUCCESS!". And our beloved the late Dr. Warren Walker said "Your music warms up people's hearts. The sound fosters a wish for peace in people's mind". I also reminded that we had No.1 achievement of having many school concerts in Japan. I saw children in the audience. They might be interested in the guitar in the future. I felt I would like to have a good performance that would remain in the children's hearts for a long time. Then, I said loudly to other members that "Let's enjoy the stage! Keep smiling and play!" A veteran soloist Mitsuji Nishikawa made a joke like "How about the guitar concerto A-major Op.30 with smile? Ha ha!", and a conductor Kiyoshi Koyama made a joke following him too. We all regained smile on our faces, and went to the stage.

Our stage was finally started! The first number was "Harp Concerto" by Handel . The sopranino guitar, the alto guitar and the bass guitar served as solo. After the first movement, we unexpectedly heard a hand clapping. Of course, the audience knew we were going to play all movements and the hand clapping was not needed at that point, but they were moved deeply by their first guitar orchestra sound and couldn't help applauding the performer.

In the following number "Piccolo Concerto in C-major Op. 44-11" by A. Vivaldi, a soloist Yuko Koshibe elegantly played the piccolo. Kohiro Sasozaki played the double prime cembalo guitar perfectly, and he was applauded very much. After the thrilling performance "Guitar Concerto A-major Op.30 No.1" by M. Giuliani, even cheers arose with a great applause for the soloists Mitsuji Nishikawa and Kazuyuki Terada.

Next coming was all movements of "Three scenes in Japan" by Masaaki Hayakawa. In the first movement "Esashi Oiwake", the audience was covered with an air of fantasy and a hush fell over the church. As soon as the last movement was finished, we received great applause. From this number to the end of the concert, lots of audience came forward to aisles one after another, and we saw some of the audience kept standing.

DANROKU (the Niibori Guitar Men's Sextet) passionately played "Jongo" by P. Bellinati and "Recife Dos Corais" by S. Assad. When the Ladies Quartet played "Nocturn Op. 9-2" by F. Chopin, we could see the audience smiling.

After "Escualo" by A. Piazzolla, the last number "Ungarische Tanze Nr.5" by J. Brahms was played. Even a TV cameraman danced to rhythm, and we worried about his recording! As soon as it was finished, shouts "Woo!" and enthusiastic applause arose, and all the audience stood up at the same time! The sponsor, Mr. Cezary Strokosz clapped his hands over head and his face wrinkled up in laughter. His wife shed tears.

In the continuous applause, a conductor Kiyoshi Koyama explained an encore number in English, and Dr. Niibori's original "NRM Japanese Traditional Music" was played by male members only. This number and "Three scenes in Japan" were especially favorably received in the concert.

The second encore was "Waltz Op. 64-2" by Chopin. This number requires a conductor and players high artistic ability and minute agogik. In case it is played in style of ensemble, the success depends on a conductor's high technique. Poland is the mother country of Chopin. I wonder how much pressure a conductor Koyama felt at that time. But he showed amazing conducting and we could see a all standing ovation again.

The very last number was a flamenco concerto "Tanquillo de Cadiz" by J. Beherend. We cheerfully played it and finally left the stage. But the applause didn't stop at all, and we all went back to stage for a curtain call.

From the next day of the concert, we were frankly hailed everywhere. Especially a fun time we spent with children during the festival are unforgettable memory for us.

In a press conference, we were asked many questions. Interviewers asked us how to develop and manufacture the original guitars, how to arrange and compose, how to get into good condition for a concert in overseas, how long training we did, how many instructors and students there were in the Niibori Group, and so on. Our answers were beyond their expectation every time.

The most impressive question for me was asked by Mr. Janusz Poplawski, a president of "SWIAT GITARY" which was the biggest guitar magazine in Poland.

"Yesterday, you all looked enjoying the stage very much. We could feel the players' souls through music. In Europe, musical performance are serious mostly. Why did you play like that?"

Koyama answered like this; "Our unique way of expressing music came from the founder Dr. Hiroki Niibori's philosophy 'Let's enjoy music both players and audience together'. To realize such type of performance, he contrived his original guitars and improved them again and again according to the Niibori Method."

Then I added some words; "The origin of his philosophy is his experience of World War II. Little Dr. Niibori realized music brought people peace in mind and united people in peace".

Mr. Poplawski smiled to hear it and told me that "Please tell your father that I said to you that 'Your father has done a really great job.'"

I believe this great success was brought by the Niibori Method. Veteran members and young members made best use of each ones' strong points. The formation consisted of a variety of original guitars, the knowledge and experience of PA, the playing method carried the sound far well even through microphones, the adjusting method, the conducting method, the expressing method, a stage manner, a good system to produce good players, etc... Everything based on the Niibori Method led us to the unforgettable great stage.

We will visit Poland next year again for a festival in Gdansk, and will have a lecture about the Niibori Method. In next November, students of the N- academy will have concerts in Esslingen and Stuttgart in Germany. And we will invite Mr. Yoshimasa Yoshida and Mr. Cezary Strokosz, a sponsor of the festival to the summer school which will take place in Nihon Guitar Music Conservatory located in Izu from July 26 to 28 in 2002. We are very glad that the musical exchanges between us and foreign countries are becoming very active.

In conclusion, we really thank everyone who were concerned with the festival, who take care of the Niibori Group while we were away, and who supported our success in Poland this time.

For questions, advice & requests about Monthly Harmony,

Niibori Guitar Music Academy, Editorial Office

143-14 Fujisawa, Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa-ken,
251-0052 Japan
Phone: +81-466-23-8338 / Fax: +81-466-23-9337

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