Our musical performance, East Meets West, featured Noriko Tokuda, koto, and Alex Wurmbrand, violin. Ms. Tokuda is a certified grand master of both Ikuta Ryu-style koto and sangen. She started playing classical koto at age 6, and studied under both Yuji Mori, a nationally famous master of Japanese classical music, and sangen player Noriko Togashi, renowned from Jiuta-mai, or classical dance music originating from Noh plays. The koto is a traditional Japanese stringed instrument made of kiri wood, with 13 strings strung over 13 movable ivory bridges. Ms. Tokuda performs in Japan and at international events, has taught and played in Geneva, Switzerland, and is now introducing American audiences to the beauty of koto music.
Mr. Wurmbrand is a Palos Verdes native whose musical life began at age six when he attended his first LA Philharmonic performance. Hearing a Paganini Violin Concerto established the focus of his life. He received his Master’s degree in Violin Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and has now returned to the Los Angeles area. His duets with Ms. Tokuda were written for Japanese flute, but he has interpreted them for violin, enchanting us all with this magical blend of East and West.
Many thanks to Kei Benoit for arranging this opportunity to expand our musical horizons, to Hazel Lord and Marge Schmit for a joyous 60th anniversary, and to Brigette Collazo for sharing her home with us.