Dutch premiere

Tomoko Mukaiymama

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Visual artist and pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama created Nocturne in the aftermath of the tsunami on March 11, 2011 to confront the disaster and re-emerge from it. The installation consists of two ‘dead’ pianos, full of mud, which originate from the tsunami area. Inspired by the women in the disaster area who started to wear their make-up again after a few weeks, Mukaiyama has applied lipstick pigments to one of the pianos, as a metaphor of new hope, of daily life slowly being picked up again.

During the opening event on June 2nd at 6.30 pm Mukaiyama performs a tapestry of Chopin’s Nocturnes mixed with other more contemporary compositions and video.
Programme Icoon

Background information

Nocturne is a work by Tomoko Mukaiyama, which she created in the aftermath of the tsunami which hit Japan on 11 March 2011. The installation consists of two 'dead' pianos, originating from the music school which two of the devastated schools in the disaster area used. Inspired by the women in the disaster area who started to wear their make-up again after a few weeks – a sign of daily life slowly being picked up again – Mukaiyama has applied lipstick pigments to one of the pianos, as a metaphor of new hope.

Personal note by Tomoko Mukaiyama:

Three years ago, the day after the tsunami disaster of 11 March, I received a phone call from a curator in Japan who we were going to do a project with. He told me they had lost everything. Everything. Families, children, houses, schools and hope; hope was lost as well. To me, it was unimaginable what had happened. I simply could not grasp the magnitude of the disaster, could not understand it and could not imagine it. The curator continued to inform me, telling me one day that on a street corner he had seen seven dead pianos, completely destroyed. As the human suffering was too great to comprehend, this image helped me a little to start to realise what had happened. All these dead bodies of pianos became the symbol to me of all the personal suffering of families, schools, music schools, theatres and community centres.

The curator asked me whether I wanted to create a project. Despite the fact that people had lost their homes and possessions, he tried to use art and music to find some new hope in the situation the region was in.                        

I requested two pianos to start my project with. When the curator asked various schools for their destroyed pianos, he received a lot of criticism. They couldn't understand that he wanted to present a work of art using the dead bodies of the pianos, when throughout the area the bodies of people needed to be recovered. Two months later, I went to Japan myself and spoke with the people in an evacuation centre about the disaster and their lives. One story touched me deeply and inspired me to create my installation and the 'Nocturne' concert. A young mother told me that on the day of the tsunami she had been out of town. As all communication and all transport were down, she decided to walk home, not knowing if her family was still alive. Walking through the night, she witnessed hell on earth. Surrounded by death, passing devastated houses and broken roads.  When she finally arrived home ten hours later at the break of dawn, she found her husand and ten year old daugher safe and well.

At the opening of the installation on June 2nd, Mukaiyama will play a collage of Nocturnes by Chopin, combined with more contemporary music and video.


The Japanese pianist and visual artist Tomoko Mukaiyama was born in Wakayama. She studied piano at the Musashino College of Music, the University of Indiana and the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. In 1991 she won the International Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition in Rotterdam, playing Conlon Nancarrow's Sonatina. She has performed with various renowned ensembles, including the Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt, the London Sinfonietta, the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. Since 2000, Mukaiyama has also been making a name for herself as a visual artist, creating various installations for leading festivals such as the Biennale of Sydney, the Yokohama Triennale and the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial.

Her motivation is to add a new dimension to the conventional concert experience. Her project For You (2005) was a public piano recital for one person. Wasted was a travelling installation of 12 000 white silk dresses dedicated to fertility, for which the feedback of the audience was used in a concert of Bach's Goldberg Variations. In 2013, her installation FALLING, which she had created with lighting designer Jean Kalman, and Jiří Kylián's dance production EAST SHADOW, which she performed in, were voted among the top three art presentations of that year by the Japanese press.

Mukaiyama has collaborated with various film directors, designers, dancers, choreographers and photographers, varying from Ian Kerkhof, Marina Abramovič, industrial outfit MERZBOW to Jirí Kylián and dance troupe Club Guy & Roni. In 2012 she collaborated with choreographer Nicole Beutler to create the dance concert SHIROKURO, which had its Dutch premiere at the Holland Festival in 2013. For the 2014-2015 season she is working on a new dance production with Club Guy & Roni.


concept & design
Tomoko Mukaiyama
piano & video opening concert
Tomoko Mukaiyama
Tomoko Mukaiyama Foundation, Tohoku University of Art & Design
Holland Festival, Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ
with thanks to
Kosé Corporation, AON Risk Solutions / Atlantische Assuradeuren B.V, Fonds Podiumkunsten, Asahi Art Foundation

'After the darkest of nights, dawn breaks.'

Shikoku Newspaper (Japan)

This performance was made possible with support by