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Friday, Dec. 15, 2006

Christmas-themed pipe organ concerts keep it snappy

Two contrasting pipe-organ concerts will be given at Muza Kawasaki Symphony Hall on Dec. 20 and 23. The organists will be joined by instrumentalists and vocalists to perform Christmas-themed programs that include works that were innovative for their time.

On Dec. 20, organist Keiko Inoue and soprano Hiroko Koda will give two performances: "Pipe Organ Lunch" and "Evening Concert, Christmas Special." Lasting 40 minutes each, one of the concerts can be taken in during a lunch break while the other is ideal for postwork relaxation.

The festive program includes Cesar Franck's motet (a short piece of religious, vocal music) "Panis angelicus," which has previously been sung to acclaim by Luciano Pavarotti. This motet is unique in that it was the composer himself who, in 1872, set it for many different instruments, including tenor, organ harp, cello and double bass. In these concerts, an arrangement for soprano will be showcased. The program will end with a medley of carols.

A powerful pipe organ program of German Baroque music follows Dec. 23. The organist will be joined by a trumpeter, a soprano and a basso. The program consists largely of Bach, and includes his much-loved "Christmas Oratorio," a controversial work in its time, when oratorios placed a strong emphasis on dramatic narration and dialogue over religious reflection. In contrast, Bach's work incorporates strict quotations from the Bible, sung in both prose and poetry.

The Dec. 20 concerts start at 12:10 and at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are 500 yen (a pair of tickets is 800 yen). The Dec 23 concert starts at 7 p.m. (1,800-2,500 yen yen). The nearest station is JR Kawasaki Station. For more info, visit www.kawasaki-sym-hall.jp or call (044) 520-0200.

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