The 2009 European Shakuhachi Summer School was held in Leiden, Holland from July 22-26. It was organised by the Dutch Shakuhachi Society, Kaito under the leadership of Kees Kort. Leiden is celebrating 400 years of trade relations with Japan with a year-long festival of events including the Shakuhachi Summer School. The performers included Yoshi Kurahashi, Gunnar Linder, Steve Cohn, Vlatislav Matousek, Peter Hill, Tilo Burdock and Kees Kort. I spent a couple of days before the event in crowded Amsterdam and found Lieden a beautiful and peaceful location for a summer school.

The workshops I attended include ‘Takiotoshi no Kyoku’ taught by Gunnar Linder, Yoshio Kurahashi’s interesting interpretation of ‘Mukaiji‘ and Tilo Burdock teaching ‘Soe’ by his teacher Nishimura Koku.

A unique focus of the summer school was improvisation. This was lead by Steve Cohn. His workshops helped everyone listen and interact to the playing of others with a new perspective. Vlastislav Matousek’s compositions also contain an element of improvisation. I was honoured to perform with Vlasislav Matousek and his three daughters in a performance of his composition ‘Roma Tibi‘.

The evening concerts included performances by the teachers of the pieces taught in the workshops. There were also very entertaining performances by some leading Dutch improvisers with Steve Cohn. The summer school also included a number of talks and performances at the Ethnological Museum in Leiden which has an impressive collection of Japanese art and antiquities. The final concert contained a performance by the superb Belgian taiko group ‘Tatake’.