This February, audiences in London were treated to the “From Yamato to Anatolia: A Musical Journey” concert

This February, audiences in London were treated to the “From Yamato to Anatolia: A Musical Journey” concert. This unique evening explored the musical cultures of Anatolian (Turkish) and Yamato (Japanese), each boasting a legacy steeped in tradition and history. 

Hosted at the historic St John’s Church in Waterloo on Friday, February 16th, the concert showcased the musical talents of renowned pianist, composer, and lecturer Çiğdem Borucu and esteemed koto virtuoso Atsuko Suetomi. Atsuko and Çiğdem played a variety of pieces, from classical to modern, demonstrating the potential and charm of the koto and the piano. Together they carried listeners from the ancient Anatolian peninsula to the historic province of Yamato, encapsulating centuries of tradition and history. 

The concert began with “Rokudan,” one of the oldest pieces composed for the koto, followed by “Sakura Sakura,” one of Japan’s most beloved folk songs. This enchanting melody, celebrating the beauty and fleeting nature of cherry blossoms, captivated the audience, earning applause for its melodic and rhythmic harmony. 

As the performance unfolded, timeless classics of Anatolian folk music took the stage, including Aşık Reyhani’s “Bahar Gelsin” and Aşık Veysel’s “Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım,” alongside intriguing compositions by Çiğdem Borucu herself. 

Among the highlights of the evening were Borucu’s original compositions, including the poignant “The Visit”, dedicated to the memory of the Ertuğrul Frigate. This composition commemorated the ill-fated voyage of the frigate from Istanbul to Japan in 1899, symbolizing the enduring bonds between the two nations. 

Commenting on the event, Borucu expressed her feelings: “This concert was a very meaningful event to celebrate the centennial of diplomatic relations between Türkiye and Japan. I was very happy to work with Atsuko, again. It was very exciting to bring together the music of two cultures.” Likewise, Suetomi said: “This concert was a very special experience for me. The Koto and the piano, although very different instruments, achieved a very beautiful harmony. I thank the audience for joining this musical journey.”The historic St John’s Church in London was filled with the enchanting sounds of the koto and the piano, which echoed in the ancient atmosphere. Organised by the Yunus Emre Institute London with the support of Turkish Airlines, this musical journey from Yamato to Anatolia explored the rich and diverse cultures of Japan and Turkey. The centennial of diplomatic relations between the two countries was celebrated with joy and friendship in 2024.