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Essay “The Sound of the Heart”

October , 2021
Stage Dresses

I first came across dresses of Hiroko Koshino a few years ago. 
The pianist Yukio Yokoyama, with whom I perform together, wears Hiroko Koshino’s clothes for his concerts and events, and my brother Hiroshi happens to be a good friend of her, so I was directly invited to the world of her clothes. 
One day, my brother suddenly called me and said, “Mari, you should call Ms. Hiroko Koshino at once!” 
I asked him with surprise, “Is it OK to call that designer, the master of fashion, “Hiroko Koshino” just like that?” He replied, “Yes! Hurry up, she’s waiting for our call!” and hung up the phone quickly. 
That was my first contact with Ms. Hiroko Koshino. 
She is the world-famous fashion designer that everyone knows and is a very charming and cool designer. 
She is also one of the three famous Koshino sisters, whose dresses are beautiful, colourful and so unique. Each of the dresses has a dazzling aura that comes from true genius. In Mis. Koshino’s office, one would find a wide range of fascinating dresses that you could never get your eyes off them. 

I have always had special feelings for dresses since my debut at the age of 12. 
Girls always admires dresses, and as a young girl, I would dream of my ideal dress and then in time I started to perform on stage professionally. 
But in reality, finding a dress for performing on stage has long been a matter of mu concern and ingenuity.

The problem was that the dress could not be worn unless it was right, to be able to play the violin smoothly.
The left shoulder part and under the left chin where the violin is held, must not damage the precious instrument in any way. It also cannot interfere with the sound. The material of the dress, its thickness and any place of contact with the instrument needed to be considered carefully. 
When playing the violin, the violinist carries the instrument in an unbalanced position. As for a soloist, they perform in a standing position, shifting the weight from right to left to create the sound. It means that the right arm especially, and also the feet are constantly moving around, and the dress should never be in the way. 
It is not a dress for dressing up in, but a dress to perform in. 
I had to remember that the garment had to be easy to wear, which led to all sorts of restrictions, and when I bought a ready-made dress that looked so nice, it wouldn’t work and then I realized that they had to be specially made for my purpose. 

When I was still a little girl, I was happy wearing my mother’s not so well-made dresses that she made with her sewing machine, but after making a professional debut, that wasn’t the case anymore. 
It didn’t take so long until I realized that a princess-like dress in comic books, which I dreamt of in my teens, did not work for playing the violin. Often, my arms wouldn’t move properly, and it was too heavy or too hot wearing it. 

I think it was in my college days that I thought that a dress for a violinist was something like a gymnast’s gym wear. So, I ordered a stage dress like a gymnast’s costume, but it was not well received. There was time that I was advised that I should think more about the audience and imagine how they would feel. After that, I tried ordering to department stores, asked a friend’s mother who was good at making dresses, ordered dresses to dressmakers, got them made by Hanae Mori, my mother buying me Valentino’s dresses, found a dress that was easy to play at Max Mara and so on. 
The wonderful thing about Ms. Hiroko Koshino is that she sees through and understands all my problems and blows away my worries in an instant. The masterly fashion designer not only has a great sense in fashion but also has an acute sense in everything. 

Nowadays, I make choices of dresses according to the size of the concert venue, the season, the theme of the concert, the music to be performed, and also the performers. 

After my 45th anniversary last year as a performer, I have become aware of thinking myself as a performer as well as a player. 
There is something that I remember, which my teacher, Mr. Toshiya Eto once said. 

―As a soloist, your own world begins from the point where you step onto the stage. The hands of the clock start moving. You must take the audience to your dream world. 
You are not a professional if you let the audience know that you have a high temperature of 40 degrees, or if you had a big fight with your family in the morning. 
You must not bring any reality onto the stage, from the moment you step on it―

What helps us to do such a thing is the “dream” that we wear. The dream of “dresses”. 
When the audience sits down in the seats of the concert halls and the bell rings, they leave reality behind, and the world of dream starts moving. 
Dresses have the aura that turn spaces into another world in an instant. 
The collaboration of the dress with the art of music, makes up a space of once in a lifetime. 
I believe that the fascination of a live concert is the time and space that never returns.