The central characters of the concert are Sakai Genshin and Saikawa Buntai, two very important figures of Japanese Buddhism. Sakai Genshin is the 42nd superior of the Myoanji Temple in Kyoto, where the secret of the spiritual play on the shakuhachi flute, the so-called Suizen, is still preserved.
The Buddhist liturgy of Shomyo forms the basis of Japanese music. The oldest surviving notation dates back to the 9th century. Since then, Shomyo has existed in various traditions and lines. Saikawa Buntai is the current most significant representative of Tendai – the sect of esoteric Buddhism, which dates back to the early 9th century. The center of Tendai sect is located in Ohara near Kyoto.
Although the spiritual music of the shakuhachi flute is much younger than Tendai shomyo, the audience will be able to experience the proximity and distance of both traditions. The associations can be found in microtonal ornaments and tuning and occasionally in the expression.
These both living traditions form the basis of Japanese musical sensitivity and respect for sounds as such, to this day. They have inspired and continue to inspire many prominent Japanese composers including Tor Takemitsu, as well as many Western artists, such as Henry Cowell and his student John Cage.