30. 08. - 02. 09. 2008 Novoměstská radnice

This article brings you a brief summary of the only European event that will host shakuhachi masters from Japan this year . More than that, Prague will offer individual lessons, high profile lectures and concerts of superb quality and a lot more.

When we were preparing the last year's Summer School we wanted to share the good will of Christopher Blasdel to teach here in Prague with other shakuhachi students. At that time Christopher has already been a regular guest of our shakuhachi community and his visits were thus the inspiration for the start of the Summer School project. This was the primary impulse. However, during the course of preparations we realized that we wish to create an event with a more complex approach to the shakuhachi than "just" offering high quality music lessons.

That is why we contacted a yoga teacher to present exercises that enhance playing performance, as well as, local and foreign shakuhachi scholars to give lectures on their fields of expertise, such as, the tembral analysis. Moreover, we came up with the idea of a concert which would employ not only the shakuhachi but also a different kind of art.
The choice of the day was poetry - we hosted an Emerson prize winner, James Ragan, and a local poet, Petr Borkovec. This synthesis was more than marvellous to witness and helped the shakuhachi to be recognized outside Japan-related circles. This year, we are preparing a combination of shakuhachi, contemporary dance and overtone singing - we can't wait to see it happen.
As our complex approach was strongly welcomed by the last year's participants we decided to stick to it (refining all the weaker points, of course).

Regarding the teachers, this year we scored the full points so to say. Not only Vlastislav Matousek and Christopher Blasdel will be available for group and individual lessons, but also Kifu Mitsuhashi, a member of Pro Musica Nipponia ensemble and a grand figure of both traditional and contemporary shakuhachi music. His accolades are numerous and his fame world wide. It is a unique opportunity as we are not aware of Kifu Mitsuhashi teaching at any other workshop in the past several years at least. It is due to the fact that Vlastislav Matousek is a student of his that he agreed to come and we are so much thankful for that. Kifu will concert with a biwa player Kumiko Shuto (biwa is a traditional japanese lute).
The teaching will be structured as follows. Each teacher will take the students through a single honkyoku piece throughout the whole Summer School in their group lesson. This is to provide teachers and students enough time to go into all minute details of the particular piece. These group lessons will not overlap, so those who wish to study all the three selected pieces will be free to do so. Furthermore, such conception of classes enables the teachers to give a number of individual consultations. These will be scheduled and decided during the morning students-teachers meeting. It will allow any student to have a teacher to deal with the issue one has been struggling with in his practice before the summer school(for example, a passage in a particular piece or just how to get the sound out of that piece of bamboo;) ) and/or with an issue which has come up during the Summer School(eg. stage conduct or need of an extra lesson on piece which is being taught). Last year it was especially beginners who flourished from individual lessons and some of them made progress which usually takes few months.
We realise that this is a luxury and therefore, the number of participants will be limited to 35. Ensuring that each and every participant is given plenty of attention is our main goal, we do not wish to sacrifice quality to quantity.
Just like the last year, music lessons will be enhanced with morning Yoga classes of Ajay Bobade, who will focus on teaching yoga exercises that benefit the playing ability. We were very impressed with both the quality, and the attendance of his classes, in spite of the early hours.

Another highlight of this year's Summer School will be the location itself. Unlike last year, all the classes, concerts and lectures will be held under one roof. And a magnificent roof indeed - the New Town town-hall. Built in 1354 AD this building has witnessed many spectacular events of Czech history, such as, the First Prague Defenestration. When in 1419 the followers of the Husite movement (Christians who demanded both, the bread and the wine) threw the King's men out of a window. But, we are NOT going to do that, despite the tradition.
We will have many rooms at our disposal, including few different concert venues, and a room dedicated to a small library where significant shakuhachi related texts and videos will be allowed for inspection and study. Along with the Summer School's main program you can look forward to a art-calligraphy exhibition by Izan Ogawa and the chado - tea rituals.

The size of the fees is yet to be worked out precisely, but is likely to fit in range of 150-200e and does include entrance fees to the exhibition, concerts, etc. Please also note there will be a tremendous discount for those booking long time in advance. Full program fees will not include accommodation and food, however, the Summer School's location, being just a few minutes walk from Prague's main square, ensures many different places of various categories to choose from. We will highlight some of them. Accommodation and food costs in Prague can be cut very easily if one wishes to, for example, a lunch menu in a restaurant within the city centre is not likely to exceed 5e(a drink included).

Lastly, I should mention that it is possible to stay some time after the Summer School ends, as we will be taking Christopher Blasdel and others around the country. Last year's wine-tasting has been particularly successful.

We hope to see plenty of you, as we are already receiving inquiries and reservations.

Marek Matvija
Member of the Prague Shakuhachi Summer School production tea.

For inquiries and reservations please contact me at mmardias (at) hotmail (dot) com
More on our web page www.shakuhachicollegium.cz