Toru Kannari: Spanish Guitar Virtuoso of the Highest Order
It goes beyond the proverbial fusion of the Oriental and the Occidental. It breaks down barriers and removes all frontiers. The result is an epic journey through the passage of time that spans from man's abandonment of Paradise to Judas' betrayal of Jesus Christ, to the Fall of the Roman Empire, to the Black Death in Europe, to the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, to the destruction of Iraq and Libya, to the clerical sexual abuse scandals, to the decapitation of Christians by ISIS, to the earthquake in Nepal, even as some visionaries remind us that we might be living in the end times.
Born in Hedake, Japan, early in his childhood Toru Kannari was encouraged by his parents to learn piano. At seven, he came upon a TV show featuring Andrés Segovia giving master classes to Japanese students. At the time, there was no guitar school in Hedake. Toru Kannnari had to go to Tokyo to study classical guitar under Ban Osawa, Ken Kitamura and T. Tezuka. To enrich his craft further, his professors encouraged him to go to Spain.
So off to Spain he went to study classical guitar at Conservatorio Superior Oscar Espla in Alicante. José Luis González, a former student of Andrés Segovia, was one of his professors. Merely a year later, he won the top award and gold medal of the first Concurso Internacional de Guitarra held in Madrid in 1976. Only in his early twenties, he was the youngest contestant. Since then, he has gained international prominence as a concert soloist, having been invited to perform in Paris, Tokyo, Florida and various places in Spain. He is at present a guitar professor in Algorta, a locality in Getxo.
With his drive and work ethic, he doesn't take his talent for granted. He is totally focused on keeping himself fit for every blockbuster performance. He rarely socializes unless absolutely necessary. His wife, Mari Carmen Enguix Orts, is a Spanish preschool teacher. A lover of music, she is genuinely devoted to him and supportive of all his endeavors. Their only daughter recently got married so they now live alone by themselves.
Lately, they adopted a stray dog which has now become a fixture of their house, a cozy carpeted apartment where there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. In this happy home, the music room of Toru Kannari is the centerpiece.
Algorta, Spain: Whenever I need to recharge my energy, I spend a good part of my leisure time listening to the discography of my favorite classical guitarist: Toru Kannari.
performed by this guitar virtuoso have a therapeutic effect on me. Every single note he produces spells out his passion for the instrument and highlights his extraordinary artistry. His stirring tremolos, legatos and vibratos elevate my thoughts, along with the poetry of Robert Browning, to the glory of heaven.
He is a Buddhist, and one can sense that his musical wizardry is seeking nirvana or perhaps a higher being, as in the case of J.S. Bach who dedicated his music Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God alone). His CD titled "Tárrega-Obras Maestras Toru Kannari Guitarra" is a collection of masterpieces by Spanish classical guitar maestro Francisco Tarrega, whose life story can dwarf reality shows.
As an infant, Francisco cried a lot. Un día aciago, his baby-sitter had had enough of his bootless cry. Failing to stop his ward from crying, he threw the baby into a trash bin and cursingly left him for dead. By quirk of fate, someone found the baby, gasping for breath and still alive. Although Francisco did survive, he became almost blind for the rest of his earthly life.
As a half-blind kid, Francisco assuaged his loneliness by playing the guitar. His first two guitar tutors were blind. He felt at home with them, and he joined their company whenever they got invited to perform in private houses. "Lagrima," the eleventh selection in this collection of eighteen of his masterpieces, practically bares the soul of the composer and leaves a tremendous challenge to any guitarist who wants to interpret it. In this, Toru Kannari passes the crucible with ease and deserves five stars for it.
Toru Kannari captures the essence of loneliness in "Lagrima," catching every single tear that drops from every single note of its original composer. Toru performs it his own way, without missing the Spanish beat and the rhyme and reason of the composition. The sense of serenity he injects in his performance is simply overpowering.
When I listen to it I feel like traipsing in the timeline of eternity, balancing my act between infinity and forever. The Spanish character impressed, as in a seal, by its Spanish composer is reinforced, never diminished, by the Japanese interpreter.
“Toru's performance of 'Lagrima' goes beyond the proverbial fusion of the Oriental and the Occidental. It breaks down barriers and removes all frontiers. The result is an epic journey through the passage of time....He is a Buddhist, and one can sense that his musical wizardry is seeking nirvana or perhaps a higher being, as in the case of J.S. Bach who dedicated his music Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God alone).
Toru Kannari with his professor José Luis Gonzáles (left) and his professor's wife.