In April, 2007, the International Whistlers Convention was held in North Carolina, U.S. Around 100 whistling artists from different countries gathered there. At this convention, three Japanese people won the championship. It was the first time at the International Whistlers Convention that the Japanese were crowned as grand champions.
The International Whistlers Convention has been held in North Carolina every year in April since 1970, and this year was their 34th anniversary. Eight Japanese representatives participated in this competition.
On April 20th and 21st 2007, in the adult female category, Kimiko Wakiyama (分山 貴美子), from Fukuoka who graduated from Kunitachi College of Music, performed “Spring Song” by Mendelssohn at the International Convention and won first place in both popular and classical sections.
Ms. Wakiyama was interested in birds ever since she was a child. She became to play the piano whistling lightly and freely as birds.
Furthermore, she went to Australia to see parakeets that flew freely in nature, which influenced her deeply.
She became interested in the interactions between birds through communications of “whistling” and she hoped to make music that resonated with nature.
Mr. Takumi Gima (儀間 太久実), from Okinawa and a sophomore at Kansai Gakuin University, won the championship in the teen category. At the International Convention, he whistled Mozart’s “Turkish March” and “Jyonetsu-tairiku”(Jyonetsu=passion or enthusiasm, tairiku=continent) and his clear tone and unique performance scored him first place in the popular and classical section.
Influenced by his brother’s whistling, he first learned how to whistle when he was around ten years old. Since then he has been whistling as if he was breathing. He became obsessed with whistling when he first managed to make a beautiful tone.
He performed songs for school as well as hit songs on his way home or at home. He also performed recitals in front of his classmates, during school recesses and on the school excursion.
His techniques were self taught, such as giving a high pitched sound by raising his cheeks and narrowing the space inside his mouth, which gave him a range of three octaves. The image of the whistle was changed completely by Mr.Gima’s performance with a beautiful tone and dynamic dancing. He stated: “this is a field which few musicians study and it is an unexplored one, thus, making it interesting.”
Furthermore, he hopes to spread the magnificence of whistling to as many people as possible. He performs voluntarily at elementary schools and a weak children’s school. He also teaches whistle training.
In the children’s category, Kosugiyama Chiharu (小杉山 千春) won first place in the popular section and also classical section.