Music From Japan
2012_Winds from Ikaruga

FEATURED PERFORMERS

Fuyuhiko Sasaki, Kugo Photo:Marty Sohl

Fuyuhiko Sasaki, Kugo
Photo:Marty Sohl

Fuyuhiko Sasaki

Fuyuhiko Sasaki (featured artist: kugo) is an active harpist and composer in Japan and winner of the 2nd International Fukui Harp Music Awards Competition for Composition in 1995. He studied harp with Ayako Shinozaki and composition with Toshiro Mayuzumi and Teizo Matsumura at the Tokyo National University of the Arts. Sasaki is also a renowned player of the kugo, a large ancient harp of Asian origin, and he has appeared in numerous concerts and music festivals as well as on recordings both in Japan and abroad. His festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival, the Hong Kong Asian Music Festival, the Silk Road circular tour around China, the 8th World Harp Congress, the Geneva Summer Music Festival, and East Meets West at the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris. In 2005 he performed at “Echoes of Eurasia” at the World Expo in Aichi. Sasaki was a featured performer in Music From Japan’s 30th-anniversary concerts at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center in 2004. An ardent Christian, he has performed in more than 600 chapels throughout Japan. He served as Music Director of the Harp Festival in Shirane Togenkyo (1990-93) and taught at Bunka Gakuin (1992-99). He has released four solo CD albums: Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude (Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring), Dona Nobis Pacem, Resurrection with You, and Kugo, Ancient Resonance Reborn, which received an “Outstanding CD” award from Recorded Art.

Kyoko Kato, hokyo, percussion

Kyoko Kato, hokyo, percussion

Kyoko Kato

Kyoko Kato (hokyo: percussion) did undergraduate and post-graduate research at the Tokyo College of Music. Her teachers include Atsushi Sugahara, Tsutomu Noguchi, Makoto Aruga, and Mariko Okada. Kato has appeared with numerous orchestras and in many major music festivals in and outside of Japan. Some of these are: the Tokyo Summer Festival, Music Today, and the Interlink Festival, and as soloist in the Yomiuri Nikkyo 461st Subscription Concert in a work by Messiaen, among others. Recent foreign appearances include March, 2011 with the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in Hong Kong; as part of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in the Canary Islands Music Festival; and at the Salzburg Festival. She has also performed internationally with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, T.I.M.E., and Reigakusha. Additionally, Kato was a finalist in the Kyogaku II competition performing with piano in a duet. As a member of Ensemble from the East, Kato participated in contemporary music festivals in Mexico and Denmark, performing on hokyo in the Hong Kong Music Festival and in lecture concerts in China. She is an active member of several percussion groups including Percussion Museum, the marimba quartet Wisteria, and SPETZI

Wonjung Kim, soprano

Wonjung Kim, soprano

Wonjung Kim

Captivating audiences around the world with her expressive voice and dynamic theatrical flair, soprano Wonjung Kim has appeared at the Opera Garnier in Paris, Dresden Semper Opera, Opera de Monte Carlo and Los Angeles Music Center Opera, singing the roles of Vagans in Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans, Zeffiro in Albinoni’s Il Nascimento dell’Aurora, Licenza in Mozart’s Il Sogno di Scipione, Amaltea in Rossini’s Moise in Egitto, and Euridice in Bertoni’s Orfeo. Ms. Kim performed throughout Europe with Claudio Scimone’s I Solisti Veneti, the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Venice’s San Marco Basilica, and at the Salzburg and Istanbul Music Festivals. Named Best Classical Artist in the KBS Awards in Korea, she also received an Ovation Award nomination for her starring performance as Queen Min in The Last Empress, produced at New York’s Lincoln Center and at the Shubert Theater in Los Angeles. Ms. Kim has performed in numerous live television and radio broadcasts and has many CD’s to her credit. Her most recent CD, Between the Notes, was released recently to great acclaim . A champion of new music, she is completing the requirements for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Stony Brook University and has performed all over the world with New York’s Continuum. Future projects include her own unique theater piece celebrating the music of John Cage, to be performed next season in New York’s Lincoln Center.

 Mayumi Miyata, sho Photo: J. BilletMayumi Miyata, sho
Photo: J. Billet

Mayumi Miyata

Mayumi Miyata (sho: 17-pipe, free-reed mouth organ) graduated from Kunitachi College of Music where she was a piano major. After graduation, she began studying the sho under Tadamaro Ono of the Imperial Household Gagaku Orchestra. Since 1979, she has been a member of the Reigakusha gagaku ensemble, founded by the famed Sukeyasu Shiba. Miyata launched her solo career in 1983 with recitals throughout Japan. She has performed worldwide, appearing with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, NHK Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, and the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, under the batons of Dutoit, Ozawa, Ashkenazy, Conlon, and Previn. She has premiered many works written especially for her by Cage, Takemitsu, Maki Ishii, Jean-Claude Eloy, Toshio Hosokawa, Paul Méfano, Klaus Huber, and Helmut Lachenmann. Recently Miyata has collaborated with Bjork, and she is in the process of recording Cage’s complete sho works for Mode Records. She can be credited with making the sho internationally recognized not only in its traditional repertory but also in contemporary music.

Hitomi Nakamura, hichiriki Photo: Shinji Takehara

Hitomi Nakamura, hichiriki
Photo: Shinji Takehara

Hitomi Nakamura

Hitomi Nakamura (hichiriki: double-reed vertical flute) completed her master’s in musicology at the Tokyo University of the Arts. She studied gagaku, hichiriki and samai with Sukeyasu Shiba and others. As a member of Reigakusha, Nakamura has performed at the National Theatre of Japan and at the Wien Modern, Lincoln Center, Tanglewood, and Ultima Oslo Contemporary festivals. In 2002 she led the Music From Japan-sponsored gagaku Ensemble Harena on its successful tour of the U.S. and Canada. Active in many performance arenas, she has appeared in the premiere performances of many contemporary works, and has played with the Japan Virtuoso Orchestra as well as with Semimaru, the Butoh dancer from the dance group Sankaijuku. Nakamura created the Ashi no Kaze (Reed Wind) Recital Series to promote the hichiriki, which is rarely played as a solo instrument. To date, the series has generated many new additions to the hichiriki repertory, which comprises both ensemble and solo works. Matsuo Geino Newcomer Prize

Takeshi Sasamoto, haisho, Shosoin shakuhachi, ryuteki

Takeshi Sasamoto, haisho, Shosoin shakuhachi, ryuteki

Takeshi Sasamoto

Takeshi Sasamoto (shakuhachi: vertical flute; ryuteki: transverse flute; haisho: pan-flute) was born in Ibaraki prefecture in 1966. He is the son of the headmaster of the Chikuinsha School of kinko-style shakuhachi. Sasamoto studied under Soshu Sasamoto, Wakyo Hatsumi, Reibo Aoki and Goro Yamaguchi. He received both his undergraduate (1989) and master’s (1991) degrees from the Tokyo University of the Arts, after which he worked at the university’s sound laboratory from 1991-1993. While a university student, he was exposed to gagaku music and began studying the ryuteki under Sukeyasu Shiba. He also encountered the musical instruments from the Shoso-in collection, and taught himself to play and construct the haisho and gagaku-style shakuhachi. Sasamoto joined Reigakusha in 1991 and has toured extensively, playing shakuhachi, ryuteki and haisho. His publications include Hajimete no Gagaku [Gagaku for Beginners] (Tokyodo, 2003) and Zusetsu Gagaku Nyumon Jiten [Illustrated Dictionary: Introduction to Gagaku] (Kashiwa Shobo, 2006). Sasamoto is also an active composer; his CD Edo-komachi/Takeshi Sasamoto Works 1 (Bamboo, 1994) sold more copies than any other gagaku albums in that year. This was followed by Mankashu/Takeshi Sasamoto Works II (Bamboo, 2000).


 

COMMISSIONED COMPOSERS

Chikage Imai

Chikage Imai

Chikage Imai

Chikage Imai was born in Nagoya (Japan) and studied with Akihiko Matsui at Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music. In 2002, Imai met and was inspired by Joji Yuasa – a notable Japanese composer – at Composium 2002, and he became familiar with her music at the Akiyoshidai summer seminar that same year, since which he has been her mentor. Moving to Europe in 2003, Imai continued to study composition with Wim Henderickx and Fabio Nieder at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, where she received her bachelor and master’s diplomas, supported by the Rohm Music Foundation. Imai’s chamber ensemble piece Vectorial Projection I – bouncing ball (2006) helped gain her international renown; premiered by the Nieuw Ensemble under Lucas Vis and performed again in Gaudeamus muzikweek, the work was also awarded an honorable mention by the 28th Irino Prize for Chamber Music. In 2008 Vectorial Projection IV – fireworks (2008) was commissioned by Festival d’Automne à Paris and premiered by Irvine Arditti and the Nieuw Ensemble. Imai’s Simulgenesis for 17 musicians (2009) was written for the 4th International Composition Seminar of the International Ensemble Modern Academy, and this piece led the Westdeutschen Rundfunks to commission Imai to write a piece for Ensemble Modern. The work was premiered at Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik 2011. Her music is published by Muzikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm and Ensemble Modern Media. Imai is involved in projects collaborating with other artists and art forms, including visual art and stage design, among others. She is currently an Honorary Research Associate at Royal Holloway University of London.

Noriko Koide

Noriko Koide

Noriko Koide

Born in Chiba, Japan in 1982, Noriko Koide received her master’s degree in music cum laude from Tokyo College of Music in 2008, and from the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music in 2011. She studied composition with Shin’ichiro Ikebe, Sunao Isaji, Masao Endo, Toshio Hosokawa, Yutaka Fujiwara, and Wim Henderickx, among others. Now at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague, with a scholarship from the Rohm Music Foundation, she studies sonology. Koide’s works have garnered numerous awards, including the Tokyo College of Music’s President’s Award, the 17th Akutagawa Prize for Best Orchestral Work in Japan, the Idemitsu Award for New Artistic Talent, second place in the 67th All Japan Music Competition (composition division), and the Iwatani Prize. Recently Koide was invited to participate in the Asko?Schönberg 9 x 7 Project and the Nieuw Ensemble Young Composers Project. Her work has been performed in Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam. In 2007 Koide studied in Finland with Yukka Tiensuu as part of the Musikin aika (Time of Music) workshop. Koide’s performing group Sukebe Ningen (whose English name is The Goodwill Ambassador of Japanese Eroticism) received a grant from the Nomura Foundation in 2010; Sukebe Ningen has gained some fame as a pop-up improvisatory group that crosses the divide between classical and pop.

Takehito Shimazu

Takehito Shimazu

Takehito Shimazu

Takehito Shimazu was born in 1949 in Shimoda City, Japan. He studied composition at Tokyo Gakugei University with Sesshu Kai and Satoshi Sumitani, and at Hochschule der Kuenste Berlin with Isang Yun and others. Shimazu graduated as valedictorian of his class from the Berlin Fine Arts University. He produced electronic and computer music at the electronic studio of the Technical University of Berlin. He has participated in many festivals in Europe, Asia and the Americas, including the World Music Days of ISCM in Graz, Hong Kong, and Mexico City, the commission of a new work by ISCM in Oslo, and ICMC festivals in Cologne, Tokyo and Hong Kong. He has participated in seminars at both IRCAM and Les Ateliers UPIC in Paris. Works range from solo to orchestral music for traditional Japanese as well as western instruments and include choral, experimental, electronic, multi-media and computer music, extending to installations and works for Japanese dance and television programs. In 2004 he was invited to present a multi-media work, Taiyo Fuu (Solar Wind), at the New York Fusion Arts Festival. The following year he presented a work for Japanese dance and ensemble at the Dresden Music Festival (“Fuzzy Diagonals”), and in 2006 he introduced Two Scenes for String Orchestra at the Breslau Music Festival in Poland. Shimazu has organized many concerts and festivals with electronic and non-electronic music; examples include the concert series “Machinery Improvisation” – as well as “Fuzzy Diagonals” and “Sound Electro Media” – in Tokyo, and a musical self-portrait “Realm of Compositions, Takehito Shimazu” in Hong Kong. Shimazu’s many honors and prizes include the Juergen-Ponto Composition Competition in Germany (’79), the International Wieniawski Composition Competition in Poland (’80), the Hambach Prize in Germany (’85), the Special Prize of Japanese Ministry of Culture for Theater Arts (’88), and the International Experimental Music Competition in Bourge, France (’96). Shimazu was the music committee chairman of ICMC in Tokyo in 1993 and composition juror for ICMC at the Hong Kong competition in1996. He is an active conductor of new compositions, including his own, both at home and abroad. In 2000 he was a guest lecturer at the University of Georgia in the US, and he currently serves as a professor at Fukushima University in Japan.

Toshiya Watanabe photo: Junichi Ishizuka

Toshiya Watanabe
photo: Junichi Ishizuka

Toshiya Watanabe

Toshiya Watanabe received both undergraduate and master’s degrees from Tokyo University of the Arts with a major in composition. While in graduate school he was a recipient of the Ataka Prize for excellence from the university, and in 1999 he won the third prize in the Toru Takemitsu Competition, with Luciano Berio as juror. Other awards include the 22nd Japan Symphony Foundation Music Prize, Honorable Mention for the 24th Irino Prize (for Chamber Music), the Takefu Composition Award in 2002, and a nomination for the 14th Akutagawa Composition Prize. Watanabe was also awarded the 9th Keizo Saji Prize (Suntory Foundation) for Chronoi Protoi’s fifth performance, subtitled “for the possibility of a string quartet” (produced by the composer). He was invited as a participating composer to the First Takefu International Composition Workshop (2001). The following year he was invited by Takefu to take part as an exchange student in the Royaumont Composition Seminar in France (on which the Takefu International Composition Workshop is modeled). Watanabe’s works have been performed in Japan and internationally, by such groups as Ensemble Bois and Vox Humana. Watanabe is an active member of Chronoi Protoi and PATH. He currently lectures at Kunitachi College of Music.

Akiko Yamane Photo: Coco

Akiko Yamane
Photo: Coco

Akiko Yamane

Born in Osaka in 1982, Akiko Yamane studied composition at the Kyoto City University of Arts with Hinoharu Matsumoto from 2001-2007, and at Hochschule für Kuenste Bremen with Younghi Pagh-Paan from 2005-2006 as an exchange student. Yamane also studied composition with Motoharu Kawashima privately. She participated in a Composition Master Course in Akiyoshidai’s Summer (2003), at the Composers Forum in Tokyo (2004), in the Takefu international music festival (2005, 2007 as an invited composer), and at Royaumont Voix Nouvelles in France (2006). She has also taken individual lessons with Joji Yuasa, Toshio Hosokawa, Misato Mochizuki, Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Jarrell and Francois Paris. Yamane’s many awards and grants include the Meiji Yasuda quality of life scholarship (2004), the Kyoto Musical Association prize (2005), the Faculty Award from the Kyoto City University of Arts (2005), a finalist of the Takefu Composition Award (2005), the Togashi Prize of the 22nd JSCM Award for Composers (2005), 1st Prize of the Music Competition of Japan (2006), and the Akutagawa Prize (2010). Her pieces have been commissioned and performed by the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Izumi Sinfonietta Osaka, and many contemporary music instrumental players. Yamane, in her own words, bases her music “on the concept of visualizing sound. Although sound is not visible to the eye, I consider it to be something like a spatial art installation, enveloping our surroundings. I strive to paint, with notes, sound that has a contour that can be followed; tactile sound that can be directly felt and experienced according to each listener’s own internal sense of shape, color, and texture.”


 

FEATURED POETS

Toma Ibu

Toma Ibu

Toma Ibu

Toma Ibu was born in 1962 and resides in Fukushima City. He had his first book of solo poetry published by Shicho Sha in 2001 with the title a = a. His work was included in the anthology Gendaishi Saizensen (“Frontline of Contemporary Poetry”), published by Hokumei Sha. Ibu belongs to the Japan Federation of Poets, a group that has included such stellar poets as Kenji Miyazawa, Chuya Nakahara, and Shinpei Kusano. Ibu’s favorite pastime is hiking in the mountains accompanied by his chocolate Labrador retriever, Sirius.

Madoka Mayuzumi

Madoka Mayuzumi

Madoka Mayuzumi

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture, Madoka Mayuzumi first received acclaim when her poems won an award from the publisher Kadokawa Shoten in 1994. Her haiku are notable for their romantic and urban flavor, and for bringing new elements into the tradition. Her first book, B-men no Natsu (“B-side Summer”), enjoyed unprecedented sales for a haiku collection; the book attracted a devoted following that led to the formation of the “Hepburn” Club (the only all-female coterie in Japan), which launched the monthly haiku magazine Gekkan Hepburn in 1996 and disbanded in March 2006 after publishing 100 issues. In 1999, Mayuzumi trekked the Way of St. James, an 800-kilometer pilgrimage from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (France) to Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Her haiku and essays of the journey were later serialized in the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan’s national newspapers, and published in the book Hoshi no Tabibito (“The Pilgrimage to Compostela”). Between 2001 and 2002, Mayuzumi visited South Korea five times to hike the nearly 500 kilometers from Busan to Seoul. Her haiku and essays of this journey were also serialized in the Yomiuri Shimbun and published as a book. In 2002, Mayuzumi’s fifth haiku collection, Kyoto no Koi (“Kyoto Romance”), won the Kenkichi Yamamoto Literary Prize. In December 2006, reacting to the many reports of depression and suicide in Japan, Mayuzumi began delivering haiku e-mail newsletters to cell phone users to raise national spirits. Recently Mayuzumi spent a year in France as a Japan Cultural Envoy on a program sponsored by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan. Mayuzumi now leads the Rediscovery and Redefining Japan project, which aims to revitalize the country by rediscovering local culture, traditions, and history. She is also a board member of the Fellowship for Camino de Santiago Japan, and a future heritage board member of the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan.

Jotaro Wakamatsu

Jotaro Wakamatsu

Jotaro Wakamatsu

Jotaro Wakamatsu was born in 1935 in Iwate Prefecture. After graduating from Fukushima University, he taught at high schools in Fukushima. His collection of poems The Midnight Forest (1961) won the Literary Award of Fukushima Prefecture. In 1988 he received the Masao Fukuda Prize for Toward the Sea, From the Sea (Kashinsha Publishing), and in 2001 he was given the Literary Cultural Award of Fukushima Minpo newspaper for Many Rivers Are There (Kashinsha Publishing). Other collections of poems by Wakamatsu are The Fog Crosses the Border (2004, Genshobo Publishing) and The Wind and the Canary at Lat.37?25’N. (2010, Genshobo Publishing). Wakamatsu has written extensively on the theme of nuclear power and its potential dangers; upon witnessing the devastation in the aftermath of Chernobyl, he wrote about how Fukushima could possibly suffer a similar fate. Wakamatsu is a member of the Japan P.E.N Club and the Japan Contemporary Poets Association. He lives in Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture.]