Over the years of independence Uzbekistan and Japan have established friendly relations which are growing stronger. The two countries develop political, economic and cultural connections, maintain artistic and business contacts, organize conferences and exhibitions, introduce each other into their traditional crafts and customs, and develop joint projects. Under the Related Cities programme, in the central part of Tashkent, next to the Intercontinental Hotel and International Business Centre compound, a Japanese Garden has been laid out where one can learn about Japanese landscapes and take a break.
The development of creative contacts between Uzbek and Japanese artists and performers has also been a success. In 1992 a Japanese dancer Tomomi Sakaguchi in her exclusive interview to the Evening Tashkent newspaper told its reporter that she was happy to perform on the Tashkent stage. The solo dancer of the classical ballet theatre of Japan and the winner of the Tamara Krasovina Award at the independent international contest named after S. P. Dyagilev, she won the Uzbekistan audience with her high professionalism and skill.
The ballet company of the Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre successfully toured Japanese cities where it performed ballets by P. I. Chaykovskiy. In March 2002 Tayota-City Ballet of Japan together with the company of the Opera and Ballet Theatre of Uzbekistan produced Chaykovskiy’s «The Nut Cracker» dedicated to the International Theatre Day.
Uzbek-Japanese Human Resource Development Centre created in 2000 plays an important role in strengthening links between the two countries. A milestone event has been the exhibition of information technologies of Japan and Uzbekistan held in Tashkent. In August 2001 another manifestation of productive cooperation in the domain of art and culture was the first night show of a Japanese opera Yudzuru (Crane in the Evening Haze) by composer Dan, staged in the Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre, which was a great success.
In November 2005 at the IV International Symphony Music Festival held in Tashkent a piece for orchestra called «Rabyrinth of Lines» by contemporary Japanese composer Masao Endo was performed in the Great Hall of the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan.
In March 2007 the Tashkent studio theatre «Ilkhom» toured Japan on invitation of and with support from the Japanese Fund. The audience in the Country of the Rising Sun had an opportunity to watch a play called «In Imitation of the Koran» based on the works of A. S. Pushkin.
Composers in Uzbekistan have always studied Japanese music, traditions, culture and folklore with keen interest. For instance, Boris Gienko created two pieces with Japanese theme for chamber orchestra. Rustam Abdullaev, maintaining traditions and developing creative principles of his teacher, wrote a cycle of pieces inspired by Korean and Japanese themes. Pieces for chamber orchestra by Khabibulla Rakhimov based on traditional Japanese tunes were successfully performed during his visit to Japan. In her art, Polina Medyulyanova demonstrates a vivid interest towards Japanese folklore.
Contacts between Uzbek composers and Japanese musicians are constantly expanding. Learning the specificities of Japanese national culture and Japanese artistic traditions, and introduction into musical instruments and ways to perform on them were facilitated by lectured delivered by Japanese scholars, as well as by concerts of Japanese performer-musicians held in the halls of the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan. The Uzbekistan audience were particularly impressed by instruments such as koto, a relative to the Uzbek kanun, and shakuhachi that is akin to the Uzbek nay.
Between October 24th and November 24th 2008 Japanese cities Tayota and Nagaki will host the performance of «Urashima Taro» ballet based on a Japanese legend. We are pleased to note that composer Felix Yanov-Yanovskiy, the author of this piece, was officially invited to attend the first night of the ballet together with his spouse Natalya Yanov-Yanovskaya.
A remarkable event in the cultural life of Tashkent was recently held concerts of a jazz quartet led by Imada Masaru, organized by the Japanese Fund, Japanese Embassy in Uzbekistan and the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan. Several pieces and a short jam session were performed in the Contemporary Art Centre on invitation of the president of the Tashkent Jazz Club named after Sergei Gilyov. This even coincided with the opening of the fifth season of the Club under the thematic title «Oh, That Jazz!». Guests were given Certificates of Honour and memorable gifts — ceramic items wrought by Uzbek masters of traditional crafts.
A wonderful concert of the jazz quartet led by Imada Masaru was performed in the Grand Hall of the State Conservatory; welcome address to the numerous audience was given by Dildora Muradova, the SCU Rector. The quartet performance attracted attention of both professionals and amateurs of jazz music. Participants of various international festivals and contests, holders of high awards and international fame, and the authors of thematic albums, the Japanese musicians enjoyed a wholehearted welcome. In the way a many-hour-long master class was run one should note a well-systematized form of its delivery, which smoothly transited into a jam session framed into one of Duke Ellington’s pieces.
The skill of the Japanese musicians left no one indifferent. Their performance is characterized by exquisite fantasy, virtuosity of passages, «beady» play of Imada Masaru (grand piano), Inagaki Mamoru (double-bass), Mori Sindzi (rhythm section), and Tsutsumi Chieko (saxophone), by the filigree improvisations, arrangement quality, the drive and spirit of the performers.
Jazz musicians from Uzbekistan, namely Vladimir Teregulov (tenor saxophone), Vladimir and Vyacheslav Safarovs (grand piano, percussion instruments), Ivan Dimov (rhythm section), Bulat Mustaev (saxophone), Edward Mkhchynyan (guitar), Ramil Isanbaev (bass guitar), Pavel Kantsybko (contrabass), Rustam Artykov (trumpet), Arsen Atabekov (soprano saxophone), Saidmurad Muradov (tenor saxophone), and Sanjar Nafikov (grand piano), emotional and inspired, participated in a jam session. The state of utmost creative zeal united and captivated everyone present in the hall. One could be overwhelmed with pride for our musicians. Ensemble unity, refined oriental intuition and scintillating improvisation let the performers’ talents manifest themselves still more vividly.
Holding such dialogue-concerts serves the cause of furthering cooperation among musicians, developing the art of jazz in Uzbekistan, and expanding creative contacts of local musicians with artists abroad; it also encourages musicians from Uzbekistan to take part in international contests and festivals.
Different forms of art, undoubtedly, shall continue to develop productively, enriching cooperation and furthering creative contacts between Uzbekistan and Japan, and facilitate the broadening of horizon in studying the achievements of musical culture of the two countries.