Junko Ueda

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2. Press Reviews

Envoûtante Junko Ueda: Impossible d'oublier, non plus, l'envoûtante Junko Ueda et sa sublime interprétation de la pièce de Jean-Claude Eloy, Erkos, Un véritable voyage spirituel. Dans le silence de la nuit et la pénombre de Passerelle.…

Ouest France 31/03/2015

…Breathtaking of beauty and long of the duration. The Heike epic story in one version of Junko Ueda was indisputably highest point in the series of non-Western music in the Old Music Festival in Utrecht. She was wearing a sober black kimono with red piping, a sparkling hairpin and holding a Japanese lute. Once settled, enough to catch her audience in two seconds - still the first sound has to come. 'Hhuuut', she groans, the sword of Genji General Kumagai make an end of the life of his enemy after a heavy flight. Rrrrrrats - the big triangle plectrum rasps over the strings and bangs against the body of the instrument. And Ueda illustrated the painful heart of the winner: his victim turns out a young man of the age of his son. His name is Atsumori, his life cannot be saved because all the armies are looking at this scene. Rage and resignation sounds through Ueda's voice, and then next moment suddenly complains with sweet voice, then again makes a sharp articulation or draws out raucous like it should be. You recognise only some names in her Japanese singing text. But even without text, without the direct relation with historical happening, listening to this Japanese singer is a experience of a pure aesthetic satisfaction…

De Volkskrant, Holland

…The Japanese Junko Ueda took the difficult task to open the festival with Shomyo-music. 'This music usually belongs to Buddhist temple', she told to her audience. 'There you feel the pressure of 1200 years old history. Here on the stage, only the music remains.' Standing next to the music stand with text and musical instructions, she played long ritual only with her voice. For fifty minutes the audience was holding their breath…

De Volkskrant, Holland

…Junko Ueda, à qui l'oeuvre est destinée : voix chargée de mystère, hiératique et pourtant sensuelle; jeu instrumental d'une étonnante précision dans la diversité; sens éminent du cérémonial scénique…

Le Monde, France

…In the Temple space, vibrating her solemn voice and its sound colour which recites and sings about the scenery of Dan-no-Ura inlet, the audience was fascinated by her performance…

Nagasaki newspaper, Japan

Japanese music for biwa and voice, that is what Junko Ueda performs. With her misleading fragile appearance, she sang the oriental lyrics, strong as steel. Also on the lute she produced a powerful, but delicate sound. She turned out to be a master in dealing with musical tension and intriguing shades. Junko Ueda gave a symmetric constructed concert of four compositions. Two traditional pieces before the intermission - one for a-capella singing, and a second for biwa and voice. The same pattern, now with two of her own compositions using poetical texts, after the intermission. It's impossible to say in which part she performed better or more convincing, because she masters her profession in all fields. The average western listener doesn't understand even a word of her singing. The meaning doesn't reach you, the poetical quality gets lost. The tonal system and the structure of the composition are also unusual and strange. The music doesn't embrace you with an overwhelming beat. But this all was no problem for her to express and to make her music understand. Spread out over the long stories, Ueda built up an always increasing tension, in a very concentrated way. Just a small information (the death of a young fighter, etc.) was enough to introduce her songs. Intensively into herself, she connected the phrases, by one long breathing, serene. With a strong sense for affect, intonation and phrasing she created her sculpture of dynamics. Harmoniously, the lute followed the melody-patterns of the voice in harmony. A hallucinative event. Again, Japan became a little bit more near to us.

De Gazette, Belgium

…From totally different order was 'Voyage' for three biwas from 1973, here played in the version for biwa solo and tape. The composer Toru Takemitsu himself spoke about a demoniac instrument and it is like he hit the angry spirit from the biwa. Junko Ueda who was playing the biwa and singing expressed the idea very strongly…

NRC Handelsblad, Holland

…Closing her eyes most of the time, Junko Ueda sang about the scenery of chaotic war field, painful farewell, sadness of a young lady's death and dramatic exile. These pieces are epic stories. However in her performance it was vibrated like entering a meditation and not just singing stories. The long phrases were filled with full of compassion and it was like a strong will which suspended the movement of the world. Even the sound itself keeps a loneliness between a pause and a silence. It is same as the existence of the singer. And again, dramatic moment, high sound, playing and striking the biwa with huge plectrum…

Donaukurier Ingolstad, Germany

…Stimmliche Höchstleistung aus Japan. Bar jeglicher elektronischer Stimmverstärkung lotet Junko Ueda sämtliche körpereigenen Resonanzhöhlen aus, lässt die kleinste stimmliche Schwimmung hörbar werden. Zum Gesang kommt die Biwa hinzu, akzentuiert, begleitet, ergänzt. Das Zusammenspiel von Stimme, Instrument und Stille gerät zu einem Klangbeispiel musikalischer Schönheit, die im europäischen Raum sicherlich ihresgleichen noch sucht. Junko Ueda lässt sich Zeit, eine Meisterin im Einsatz musikalischer Pausen. Das Publikum im Forum war begeistert…

Westdeutsche Zeitung, Germany

…Junko Ueda joue et chante cette épopée dans le meilleur style, investi de sa personnalité propre, prouvant que l'art le plus secret est accessible au musicien, pourvu qu'il se mette à l'école des grands, mais aussi, sans doute, qu''il possède un véritable talent. La richesse de la voix d'Ueda, la vigueur et la subtilité de son jeu révèlent une maturité et une maîtrise stupéfiantes chez une si jeune femme…" >>> Le Monde de la Musique, France
"Zwischen Tradition und Moderne, Junko Ueda auf der lautenähnlichen Biwa. "In diesen Tagen ist Wuppertal eine andere Stadt", so Peter Kowald bei der Begrüssung der Gäste zum Nachtprogramm des Pina-Bausch-Fests im überfüllten ADA in der Wiesenstrasse. Tanz-theater-Ensemble, Wuppertaler und Gäste aus aller Welt trafen zu später Stunde zusammen, um eine musikalische Kunstform kennenzulernen, die uns hierzulande zumindest vom Klang her sehr fremd ist. Bei den Erläuterungen, welche die japanische Sängerin Junko Ueda ihren Liedvorträgen vorausschickte, stellte man dagegen überrascht Parallelen fest: Kriege über Generationen zwischen gegnerischen Adelsgeschlechtern, feindliche Brüder und edle Helden - die Inhalte der Heldenepen dieser Welt sind offenbar überall ähnlich. Scheinbar unberührt von dem geräusch- und rauchintensiven Ambiente trug die Sängerin mit grosser Ernsthaftigkeit und Konzentration die aus dem 12. Jahrhundert stammenden Gesänge vor. Dazu begleitete sie sich selbst auf der Biwa, einem entfernt andie Laute erinnernden Saiteninstrument, das ursprünglich nur von Männern gespielt wurde. Junko Uedas längst nicht mehr nur in Japan berühmte Lehrerin Kinshi Tsuruta hat das Instrument von der Tradition emanzipiert, indem sie die Biwa als Soloinstrument in die Neue Musik einbrachte. Dass ein solcher Brückenschlag zwischen Tradition und Moderne überzeugend gelingen kann demonstrierte Junko Ueda mit einer Improvisation für Stimme und Biwa, bei der sich ihr gesangliches Können weit mehr entfalten konnte als im Korsett der Tradition. Die Darbietung war auch eine Hommage an Pina Bausch, war doch Junko Uedas Improvisation inspiriert von den nachhaltigen Eindrücken , die eine Aufführung von 'Sacre du Printemps' in Tokio vor vielen Jahren bei ihr hinterlassen hatte…

Westdeutsche Zeitung, Germany

…La unión entre lo oriental y lo occidental, entre el rito y lo contemporáneo es el trabajo que Junko Ueda y Wil Offermans trajeron para el Festival de Música Contemporánea………. La integración de culturas, de estilos, de sonidos y de Instrumentos que existe entre Junko Ueda y Wil Offermans une al espectador en un universo musical que no diferencia mundos, que no establece escisiones sino complementos y todo su trabajo da como resultado una música que se puede sentir, oír, gustar y tocar a través de la imaginación…

La Prensa, Colombia

…Duo explores musical horizons. People gathered at Gallery Connexion, Fredericton, Wednesday night to witness the performance of experimental musicians Wil Offermans and Junko Ueda. the duo offered a glimpse into the horizons beyond conventional musical expression. Wednesday's concert was the first of three programs scheduled at the gallery in the coming year. The performances are made possible by a grant from the Canada Council for music in alternate spaces. In order to qualify, the presentation must be "of the highest artistic quality, feature experimental works and/or be of unique interest to the avante-garde community." The work by Offermans and Ueda more that adequately fulfilled all of the set criteria…

The Daily Gleaner, Canada

3, PDF Download

Here below you can download PDF information (click an image to start the download):

  • General Flyer (PDF; 2 pages; 1.2Mb)
  • Shomyo Workshop flyer in English (PDF; 2 pages; 600Kb)
  • Shomyo Workshop flyer in Japanese (PDF; 2 pages; 600Kb)
  • Shomyo Workshop flyer in French (PDF; 2 pages; 600Kb)
  • Shomyo Workshop flyer in Spanish (PDF; 2 pages; 600Kb)


  • CD Meditative Flowers:
    Junko Ueda performing repertoire from the 1200 year-old Japanese traditional Shomyo Buddhist chant.
    CD Meditative Flowers:
    Junko Ueda interpretando canciones budista tradicional japonés de Shomyo, un repertorio del siglo VIII.
    CD Meditative Flowers:

  • CD Satsuma-Biwa:
    solo CD by Junko Ueda performing traditional biwa music as well as a modern-style composition by Toru Takemitsu.
    CD Satsuma-Biwa:
    CD solo de Junko Ueda interpretando música biwa tradicional así como una composición moderno de Toru Takemitsu.
    CD 薩摩琵琶:

  • CD Japon - L'épopé des Heike:
    Junko Ueda with traditional satsuma-biwa repertoire from the Hieke Monogatari, recorded at Hiei-zan Temple, Japan.
    CD Japon - L'épopé des Heike:
    Junko Ueda interpretando canciones budista tradicional japonés de Shomyo, un repertorio del siglo VIII.
    CD Japon - L'épopé des Heike:

  • The Biwa Vocab is a vocabulary catalogue and sound library of the satsuma-biwa by Junko Ueda.