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Piece by Piece #7: Izumi Kimura

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The 7th creation in the sequence comes from pianist Izumi Kimura. The Japanese-born, Irish-based pianist has worked with many of the top names in contemporary and improvised music and performed all over the world, and is praised by the Irish Times for her “heroic level of technical fearlessness”.

In the Piece by Piece series, each artist’s input performance will influence or inspire the next performance in this musical chain. Piece by piece, artists will create new improvised work, based on the preceding work. Improvising musicians are uniquely skilled at interpretation and spontaneous creation allowing for fresh creation of the highest calibre.

Q. What does improvisation mean to you?

Trusting that everything happens here and now.

Q. How do you think about engaging with material or ideas from another artist when improvising?

It is about listening, being touched and inspired by another artist’s work, and then bringing those materials to my own space and relating to them as honestly as I can. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that serious, but it has to be honest. There is no room for bullshit, and always open-ended - that’s what I love about improvising.

I took two small fragments from Paul’s set: the closing melodies, followed by a short improvisation on the opening melody based on Cora’s harmony which he interpreted. His melodic lines are beautifully natural and open. I think they worked like the twist of a möbius strip in my set.And there is another layer to this as I worked with Cormac Larkin on the visuals. He spent many hours on this, adapting my shaky amateur footage from my 2 and 5 km radius walks, and many emails and phone calls. So although it’s a solo piano set, it turned out to be a collaborative work, which I appreciate, particularly at this time of isolation.

Q. How do you think the world of music is changing or will change as result of the COVID-19 crisis?

I don’t know. The one thing I feel is that it’ll never go back to the way it was before. The change itself is not good or bad - it’s up to us to make it a positive change.

I’ve been thinking about it and I thought this today - the best thing about the live music is that we all go into ‘the space’ where anything is possible in the moment. Without this opportunity, right now each of us has to find this in ourselves – it’s not easy but that’s ultimately what we practice for. If each of us can find it alone, when we eventually meet and play music together again, we'll have the sort of deep communication that will bring us to the next level. I’m not just talking about musicians but also audience. In improvised music, audience is such an important part of the creative process.

So we’ve got a lot to do while doing very little. I’m staying positive.

Enjoy fresh new music, influenced in real-time, from world-class Irish improvising musicians, telling the story of these strange times through new music and live performance, piece by piece.

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