Tag: Japan

mandolin orchestra

Azzurro by Daigo Marumoto (Japan) – Compositions for Mandolin…

Recently I have listened to videos of the composition Azzurro for solo mandolin by Daigo Marumoto. This is a nice, dreamy composition for the mandolin, and so there are quite some videos of this composition played by the best Japanese mandolin players.

My favorite video besides the version by Masataka Hori at the beginning of the playlist is the following – with some reverb added to the sound which makes it sound like played in a big hall – and you can see the right hand of the player very well:

There is also a video where this piece is played on a mandola. The mandolin solo version by Tatiana Cro – one of the few mandolin players not from Japan in this playlist – is also very good, but the sound is very noisy, so it is not much fun to listen to it with headphones…

Daigo Marumoto has also composed two versions of Azzurro for mandolin orchestra. This is the fantastic, incredible version with the Japanese mandolin orchestra Arte Mandolinistica conducted by Yasunobo Inoue:


You can find the mandolin orchestra versions also in my playlist, including the video played by the GCEA mandolin orchestra from Madeira which plays only the second part.

Playlist Azzurro by Daigo Marumoto

Additional Information

There is a short discussion about this piece in the Mandolin Cafe Message Board: Daigo Marumoto

The sheet music for this piece is only available in Japan – unfortunately…


Akira Otsuka Solo Mandolin Recital – Bluegrass 45 –…

I have just found the following video in the youtube channel of WAMU, a complete Open Mic show of two hours, with performances by Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass, Gold Heart and Akira Otsuka.

Inspired by this video I had to search around for more information about Akira Otsuka, his band Bluegrass 45, John Duffey and Bluegrass in Japan.

The program of the Open Mic Show starts with a highlight for mandolin players – Akiro Otsuka plays a set of solo pieces on his mandolin. Most of the pieces can be found on his new CD First Tear.

Akira Otsuka is a Japanese mandolin player who played in a Japanese Bluegrass band named Bluegrass 45. This band was invited to the USA in the 1970s and played several concerts. Rebel Records produced several records with Bluegrass 45. Akira Otsuka decided to come back to the USA in the 1970s and has stayed there until today. He has played with many musicians – you can find more information on his website (see below).

Akiro played a beautiful set of mandolin solos on his old Gibson mandolin that had previously been owned by John Duffey.

Open Mic: LIVE from WAMU, 6/20/2014

On June 20, WAMU’s Bluegrass Country presented a special live edition of Open Mic featuring performances from Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass, Gold Heart, and Akira Otsuka.

Some Screenshots form the Video showing Akiro Otsuka and his mandolin:

I have compiled some information about Akiro Otsuka, his band Bluegrass 45 and his mandolin below. I did not have time to listen to the rest of this Open Mic Show, but I am sure that the other two bands are great too!

Additional Information

Akira Otsuka and Bluegrass 45

Website Akira Otsuka

AKIRA OTSUKA first toured the U.S. with legendary “Bluegrass 45,” the first and most influential Japanese Bluegrass band to hit these soils. Since that time, Akira has been acknowledged and honored in both the U.S. and Japan for his outstanding abilities on the mandolin. Highly sought as an accompanist and session player on guitar, banjo and bass as well as mandolin, Akira has shared the stage and recorded with many of the genre’s greatest artists, including Emmy Lou Harris, Nils Lofgren, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ricky Skaggs, Bela Fleck, Jethro Burns, Danny Gatton, Hazel Dickens, Bill Kirchen and Peter Rowan.

Website Bluegrass 45

You can find several videos with Bluegrass 45, including a video from Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Festival in 1971 that shows the first appearance of Bluegrass 45 in the USA

A concert with Bluegrass 45 from 1971

You can download or listen to 3 complete records by Bluegrass 45!


Bluegrass in Japan–Anya’s Article “Bluegrass Accident” to be published in Japan’s Moonshiner Magazine

Bluegrass 45 reunion tour in Japan (Bluegrass Today article)

Mandolincafe Thread: John Duffey’s Mandolin

Mando Hangout: John Duffey’s Mandolins by Akira Otsuka

Listen to the Seldom Scene with John Duffey at Airplay Direct: Seldom Scene – Live At The Cellar Door

Akira Otsuka talks John Duffey’s mandolins

Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass

Website Danny Paisley

Gold Heart

Website Gold Heart


youtube channel of WAMU

mandolin orchestra

The Mandolin Orchestra “Il Mare Mandolin Club” from Chiba…

The mandolin orchestra “Il Mare” from Chiba in Japan has posted about twenty videos in its youtube channel.

The orchestra weas founded in 2008, the first concert was given in 2009. The videos contain pieces from the concerts in 2009 – 2013, the sixth concert is planned for this year.

I have compiled the videos in my playlist:

Videos by the Mandolin Orchestra “Il Mare” – Chiba

The following pieces are included:

  • Rome und Julia
  • Godfather II – Immigrant
  • Perl Fisher’s Tango
  • Plein Soleil.太陽がいっぱい
  • Marine Fantasy von Hiro Fujikake
  • The Spirit of Nature by Hiro Fujikake
  • Some Enchanted Evening 魅惑の宵 (R. Rodgers)
  • New Cinema Paradiso Medley
  • Gavotte – Serenade by Amedeo Amedei – “One of the most performed pieces composed for Mandolin orchestra. Performed by IL MARE Mandolin Club, an amateur Japanese mandolin club in Chiba, Japan from its forth regular concert held in 2012. “>One of the most performed pieces composed for Mandolin orchestra.”
  • Suite Spagnuola by Claudio Mandonico
  • Slavischer Tanz Nr. 10 von A. Dvorak
  • Stabat Mater by Hiro Fujikake
  • Fantasia Kyusyu (Hiro Fujikake)
  • Serenate Napolitane by Primo Silvestri – “A lovely Italian piece by Primo Silvestri, arranged for mandolin orchestra. Performed by IL MARE Mandolin Club, an amateur Japanese mandolin club in Chiba, Japan from its fifth regular concert held in 2013. “>
  • Dances for the Mandolin & the Moon (Richard Charlton) – “A fascinating mandolin orchestra work, partly inspired by one of Picasso’s most beautiful cubist works, Girl with a Mandolin, composed in 2005 by Richard Charlton, who is widely recognized as one of Australia’s leading composers and guitarists. Performed by IL MARE Mandolin Club, an amateur Japanese mandolin club in Chiba, Japan from its fifth regular concert held in 2013. “>
  • Song of the Spirit 魂の歌 (Karl Jenkins)
  • Summertime in Venice ベニスの夏の日
  • Stardust スターダスト
  •  So in Love ソー・イン・ラブ

Additional Information

Website Il Mare (japanisch)

aa mandolin guitar

Clash on the Big Bridge from Final Fantasy V…

Mandolin orchestras from Japan are known for playing arrangements of music from computer games. I have recently discovered this great example, a version of Battle at the Big Bridge / Clash on the Big Bridge from Final Fantasy V played by the mandolin orchestra of the Yamagata Higashi High School:

Clash on the Big Mandolin Ensemble

Performed by the Yamagata Higashi High School in a music contest.

This music has been composed in 1992 for Final Fantasy V, a game for the Super Nintendo SNES. It is interesting that this  music is still popular after more than 20 years.


I have found versions of this piece for mandolin, guitar, string quartet or sinfonic orchestra and have collected the best videos in my playlist. In some of the videos you can see the animations from this computer game.

Playlist “Clash on the Big Bridge” – Final Fantasy V


Additional Information

Final Fantasy Wiki about Clash on the Big Bridge: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Battle_at_the_Big_Bridge

“Battle at the Big Bridge” (ビッグブリッジの死闘, Biggu Burijji no Shitō?, lit. “Battle to the Death on the Big Bridge”), also known as “Clash on the Big Bridge” or “Battle with Gilgamesh” is a theme from Final Fantasy V. It was composed by Nobuo Uematsu in 1992.

Many version of this piece can be found in the youtube channel of MagirusNecros: http://www.youtube.com/user/MagiusNecros/videos

Music of Final Fantasy V

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Final_Fantasy_V