Chiho’s talent

The crystal armonica, played by Bibra Lake resident Chiho Kagawa at Kulcha next weekend, could also be the rarest.

Kagawa said she believed it to be the only crystal armonica in Australia and described her first experience of its music as a lightning bolt.

Similar to creating a tone by running your finger along the rim of a wine glass, but with a series of crystal bowls rotating around a spindle, it looks like an impossible instrument to play.

But she said once a player understood the friction of the crystal, it was not much different from playing the piano.

‘The hardest part is about the friction, if you can imagine playing a wine glass, it has to be just right or it doesn’t make a sound,’ she said.

‘My hands have to be washed in a special soap to maintain the right friction.’

Composers like Mozart and Beethoven have written for the armonica and most musicians play it as a classical instrument, however Kagawa plays music specifically designed for relaxation and health benefits.

As a result, despite listening to an instrument that only 10 people in the world play, it’s nothing for people to fall asleep while listening.

‘I play it for a yoga class and they fall asleep,’ she says.

‘It’s an honour.’

Kagawa’s performance at Kulcha will feature Kirtan call-and-response chanting and other transcultural instruments including erhu, dulcimer and temple gong.