New Album by Marika Takeuchi Features Her On Piano Plus Cellist And Violinist
Just as an impressionistic painter tries to capture an impression of the subject matter with dabs of paint, an impressionistic composer uses a series of notes, a melody line and rhythm, and additional coloration from other instruments to create an impression of a place, a view, a feeling or mood. Classically-trained pianist, composer and orchestrator Marika Takeuchi has always been fascinated and strongly influenced by classical musical impressionism which she continues to explore on her fourth album, Colors in the Diary, produced by the Grammy-winning Will Ackerman, and featuring cellist Eugene Friesen and Boston Symphony Orchestra violinist Si-Jing Huang.
Takeuchi also is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, a film composer, producer, arranger, copyist and educator specializing in piano instruction. She released her first album, Night Dream, in 2011 and immediately began to gain notice from fans of neo-classical, new age and healing music. "I truly believe that music has the profound power to heal and change people's lives, " she states. Her second album, the appropriately-titled Impressions, was released in 2013, climbed high on the international Zone Music Reporter Chart and was named one of the Top 5 Best Neo-Classical Albums of the Year at the ZMR Awards. On that album her piano playing was backed by real musicians adding flute, clarinet, violin, viola and cello, and the selections including some of her film scores as well as original chamber music. Her third album, Rain Stories, featured those same instruments but also added oboe and the traditional Chinese erhu to the mix. The album went Top 20 on the ZMR Chart.
Now on her new Colors in the Diary album, Takeuchi works in a more tight-knit grouping of piano-cello-violin (with synthesizer on one tune) which allows for not only more interplay between the musicians but also gives each soloist a variety of opportunities to be spotlighted. Eugene Friesen is world-renowned as one of the top cellists in new age music, especially for his ground-breaking work for many years with the Paul Winter Consort. Si-Jing Huang is recognized as one of the best violinists in Boston and has been a featured classical orchestra player. Producer Will Ackerman, himself an acclaimed musician, has produced dozens upon dozens of highly-charting, award-winning albums, and is the founder of both Windham Hill Records and Imaginary Road Studio. The album was mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Tom Eaton.
Marika Takeuchi's recordings are available on a wide selection of digital download sales websites including Amazon, iTunes, CDbaby, eMusic and dozens of others. For more information about the artist and her career, go to her website (marika-takeuchi.com).
Takeuchi, a native of Japan, began studies in classical music at the age of three. In addition to the piano, she played violin and French horn for several years. She started studying composition and building a career as a composer at the age of 18 at Shobi Music College in Tokyo. Her early career includes composing for Japanese national radio and Universal Music Japan.
In 2009 she moved to the United States to study film scoring at Berklee College of Music. She has scored several inspiring short films such as "The Arctic Light" (the acclaimed TSO Photography's time-lapse film), "Horizons: 50 Years" (about a summer enrichment program) and other award-winning independent shorts. Her single "The Arctic Light" (2011) also has been featured in an Australian TV commercial, the Norwegian Tourism Board's official website, and other advertisements and short films. After graduating from Berklee in 2012, and continuing to reside in Boston, she has been passionately working on wide variety of projects as a composer, pianist, orchestrator, arranger, copyist and educator. Takeuchi also has "synesthesia, " a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one of a person's senses leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway of the brain.
"Since I have synesthesia, " explains Takeuchi, "I see colors in my mind when I hear music, words and numbers. And when I see beautiful scenes I hear notes in my mind as well. So colors and music are strongly connected in my mind. The 'Colors' in the album title refers to colors that I see both with my eyes and in my mind. The album follows in my exploration of musical impressionism, but it also is about moments that have been inspiring in my daily life, especially those times when I make musical and color associations in my mind."
Several of the tunes were inspired by a trip to Norway. The album begins with "Frozen Lake." "The frozen rivers and lakes in Norway make spectacular scenery. Winter is one of the most inspiring seasons for me because of the special winter light and how snow and ice make everything look different. That cold Norwegian beauty also brought about my composition 'White Mountains', " explains Takeuchi.
She also explores the melancholy side of stormy weather with the pieces "Gray Clouds" ("When the sky is gray and dark with clouds, it is one of my least favorite types of weather because it makes us depressed and heavy-hearted") and "Into the Storm" ("This music was definitely influenced by the historic snow-storms we had in New England all winter"). However, she notices other winter beauty and portrays it in "Sparkling Sky" ("It is about those clear night skies in winter when the stars are incredibly bright and twinkly") and "Morning Light" ("morning light was coming in through my window when I wrote it").
But Takeuchi also uses the colors of other seasons for inspiration as she shows with "Green Field" (which "expresses the relief and joy that spring brings to us after a long, cold winter"), "Ocean Wind" ("As I've been living in a place with long and severe winters, summer is always a special and precious time to me, especially the pleasant feeling of being by the ocean"), and "Blue Falls" ("capturing the melancholy and sentimental feelings we get between the end of summer and the arrival of autumn leaves").
In addition, Takeuchi turns to personal feelings in her music with "Remembrance" ("about losing someone important to me") and "Nostalgia" ("thinking of the beauty of my home country and its culture and missing it, but also remembering the memories I have from there").
"'Colorful Mind' was inspired by young children to whom I've taught piano, " explains Takeuchi. "While they play random notes for fun, sometimes they create beautiful phrases or harmonies without realizing it. I wanted to write a piece that evokes the sound of these children playing around."
"In first listening to Marika Takeuchi's music, " states acclaimed musician/producer Will Ackerman, "one is struck by the startling elegance, precision and consummate nuance of her performance as a pianist. An instant later all of these thoughts recede as you are transported into the world of a passionate composer whose music is equally emotional and evocative. It is the combination of her skills and her heart together that reach you so powerfully."
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