Below, excerpts from Erin Williams' March 30 Washington Post story/interview.
To play any reed instrument takes skilled breathing, so imagine blowing air into 17 pipes: Mayumi Miyata stands alone. Miyata ... has played the Japanese reed instrument, the sho, for more than 30 years. Her talent inspired contemporary composer John Cage, who created sho pieces in the 1990s. Here, she talks about her journey, techniques and her interactions with her composer friend:
"First I studied piano, and I wanted to find something else. This instrument has breathing of exhaling and inhaling as well ... so maybe it is a little bit difficult. People usually use only exhaling breath. You know, harmonica uses both, but in harmonica, inhaling and exhaling produces different notes. But in sho, it has a free reed; it vibrates outside and inside. We can produce the same notes by exhaling and inhaling as well.
"To play sho, I use two fingers on my right hand and four fingers on my left hand, and I can produce harmony .... It can produce very long, long notes, long harmony. It sounds like Milky Way. Harmony itself has, I think, the touch of color. When I play the harmony, it has particular color on the sound. When you see the stars or galaxy in the night sky, the sound of sho is like some galaxy which changes gradually their colors.
"In 1990, John Cage came to our concert in New York, and we met after the concert. At the reception, we talked and he just told me, 'Shall I compose for your instrument?' I was very surprised. The next year, I came to New York to work with him for one week. It was a fantastic time. I went to his home, and we tried many, many things on sho .... He chose notes, and he decided to use "I Ching," the Book of Changes programmed on the computer when he chose a number of combination of chords on sho. First it sounded very beautiful, and the second time it was not so beautiful like the first time. We thought that he chose too many notes, so we took some notes out, and then it sounded very beautiful.
I think John Cage is very special, and his music sounds very similar to Japanese traditional music. He told me that he is not a composer — only a person who wants to listen to beautiful songs. I'm very happy when I play. I feel he’s listening to the music.
Up top, Ms. Miyata plays Toru Takemitsu's "Ceremonial: An Autumn Ode," accompanied by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Yutaka Sado.
She wrote, "My most viewed photo — 5,000 views since November 8, 2008. The same photo underneath at summertime."
"This old pink house is situated at the old dunes, a few hundred meters from the west coast, a very windy place where there isn't much that can grow. So the tree can only grow where it has shelter. It has looked this way always.
"To simplify the messy, time-consuming job of preparing fresh pineapples, we test-drove six tools that promise faster results. Our favorite, the Rösle Pineapple Cutter, made effortless, 30-second work of the job, but at $30, it's only for hard-core pineapple lovers."
"This sturdy tool transforms an entire pineapple into a stack of neat, uniform rings with just a few twists, leaving the core and empty shell behind."
Rösle makes superb kitchen equipment of the very highest quality in terms of function, durability, and esthetics.