What could be more silent than the sound of one hand clapping? I guess that would be the sound of not even a single hand clapping. After all, one hand moving from side to side could possibly disturb the air enough to create some sort of butterfly effect that could whip up a round of applause somewhere. On the other hand, there couldn't be anything more crushingly quiet, especially to a performer, than the silence of not even a single hand clapping.
That might have been exactly what the father and son musical team of Yuji and Hiromitsu Maehana would have heard a week from today when they play our local 500 seat music venue known as Salvia Hall. Thank goodness my birth many years ago has altered that course of events in a dramatically more upbeat direction.
Hailing from Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, the Maehana's are reputed masters of the sanshin, a three-stringed instrument (and distant cousin of the banjo) whose soulful sound is synonymous with the strand of southerly islands themselves. I sort of developed an appreciation for the instrument a few years ago when Em, my wife, enrolled me in a two-week-long kankara (tin can) sanshin course. Now everybody has it in their head that I'm a huge fan of the musical genre. When my sister-in-law,Felicity, spied a listing for this act playing on my birthday, she thought a ticket to their show would make the perfect gift.
So far the Maehana's Yokohama debut has been more a comedy of errors than anything else. My sources tell me when the Maehana's concert notice was submitted for publication in a city bulletin of upcoming arts events,something got lost in translation and it wound up under the listings for local recitals, which don't usually draw a big crowd outside of mothers, fathers, siblings, etc. Then when Salvia Hall listed the concert in its own publication for some reason it was placed with traditional comic storytelling (rakugo). I hope they can tell a good story.
While those two mishaps alone aren't exactly devastating omens, perhaps Felicity's phone call to reserve the tickets was a more revealing sign of things to come. All ticket sales at Salvia Hall are handled by the performers themselves or their agents. When Mr. Maehana picked up his cell phone to answer Felicity's call about buying a ticket, he asked if he could call her back later since he was travelling on the train at that moment. After eight or so hours passed by without a call back, Felicity decided to try calling to purchase the ticket once again. Picking up the phone at home, Mr. Maehana suddenly remembered his earlier conversation and apologized to Felicity for not returning her call. After not a little chit chat he admitted that her earlier inquiry about the tickets had just completely slipped his mind and he promised to send her a ticket right away. When Felicity suggested he wait until he got the money before sending any tickets, the musician confided in her that he really didn't know a lot about all the little details that go along with putting on a concert.
Salvia Hall doesn't have reserved seats, but right now it looks like I may have a seat in the front row, back row or anywhere in between I'd like to sit. While I'm not a super sanshin fanatic, I'm kind of curious to see how this concert plays out. There is sure to be great music and there are sure to be at least two hands clapping (mine) but I sure hope they're not the only ones.