On May 2, 2013, the Suginami Koukaidou in Tokyo hosted Akira Ifukube’s 99th Birthday Concert. Starting at 7:00 p.m., the concert lasted two hours and paid tribute to one of Japan’s greatest composers.
|Brett in front of the concert hall|
Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster director Yoshimitsu Banno was also on hand for the concert. Although he wasn’t involved in an official capacity, he came to enjoy the music. But he also came to reunite with his Smog Monster composer, Manabe-sensei. The two had not seen one another since Smog Monster was completed in 1971! Suffice it to say, the Godzilla fans who were lucky enough to witness the reunion are sure to remember it for years to come.
|Two kaiju eiga legends: Riichiro Manabe and Yoshimitsu Banno|
Next was “Lauda Concertata for Piano and Marimba” (1976/1979), arranged by Hirohiko Nagase. Ms. Ikeda returned to the piano, and Mizuki Aita skillfully performed the marimba. The third part of the first stage saw Makoto Inoue emcee the Film Score Selection (music engraving by Sohei Kano), which featured tracks from such kaiju eiga classics as Dogora the Space Monster (1964) and Yog Monster from Space (1970). The Film Score Selection was immediately followed by “Symphonic Fantasia No. 1 for Piano Solo” (1983/2010), arranged by Motoji Yssimal. The tireless Megumi Ikeda once again performed on the piano, effectively capturing the spirit of Symphonic Fantasia.
|Brett with the pianist Megumi Ikeda|
Afterward, the concert broke for 10 minutes. When the lights went back down, the Second Stage of the concert commenced. In the biggest surprise of the night, Riichiro Manabe’s “Reminiscence for Vibraphone” (2013), arranged by Yoichi Kiyomichi, was performed. I was quite surprised to learn that Manabe-sensei was still composing new music, and, as a longtime fan of his, it was quite a treat to listen to this new composition. Mizuki Aita did the piece justice on vibraphone. Following that, “Trois Esquisses pour Piano 1. Air 2. Feu 3. Eau et Terre” (1967) by Masayuki Nagatomi was performed, again by the night’s MVP, Ikeda-san.
Overall, the concert was a big success. The music was performed expertly, and the audience was very appreciative of the music. The highlight for me was meeting Manabe-sensei in the flesh and getting the chance to thank him for all the entertainment he provided me throughout the years. I sincerely hope that the Ifukube’s centennial concert next year will be as successful. If it is, it will most certainly be worthy of the composer’s legacy!
Special thanks to: Koichi Nishi, Masahiro Abe, Kumi Saito, Masayuki Suzuki, Masaru Hayakawa and many others for all their help!