Music From Japan

Critics

John Fleming

John Fleming is president of the Music Critics Association of North America. He has been a journalist for more than 40 years, and primarily a classical music and arts journalist since 1991. He had stints as writer and editor for the weekly Chicago Reader, the Sunday magazine of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Trend (a business magazine) and the Tampa Bay Times, for whom he was performing arts critic for 23 years. Twice he was awarded first prize in the annual Florida Society of Newspaper Editors Competition, once for music and theater criticism, another time for beat reporting on cultural institutions in the state. As a freelancer, he has written for Musical America, Opera, Opera News, Symphony, EMAg (the magazine of Early Music America), the New York Times Book Review, and MCANA’s online news site, Classical Voice North America. He was a jurist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013 (winner: Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar). Since joining MCANA in 1992, he has organized three critic education institutes in Florida, where he lives.

Johanna Keller

Johanna Keller is the music critic for The Hopkins Review (Johns Hopkins University Press) and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, London Evening Standard, Opera Magazine, Opera News, Musical America, Strad Magazine, and many other publications. For her essays in the Times, she received the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award as well as the Front Page Award from the Newswomen of NY. She is a journalism professor at Syracuse University’s renowned S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she founded and directed the Goldring Arts Journalism Program in 2005, the first university graduate program to teach journalists to write about the arts, and artists to create journalism. An advocate for arts journalism, she has judged the Pulitzer prizes four times, was editor of Chamber Music Magazine, and held top administrator positions at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Michael Anthony

Born in Minneapolis, Michael Anthony served as music critic of the Minneapolis Tribune (later the Star-Tribune) from 1971 to 2007, covering a wide range of music: rock and jazz, classical and opera. A graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul with a degree in English and American literature, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota in American Studies while working as an actor in several professional theater companies in St. Paul and Minneapolis. As a recipient of the year-long National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, he studied music and art history at the University of Michigan. He also received a grant from the Center for Arts Criticism to study contemporary music theater in New York City. He has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Opera News and MinnPost. His biography of Osmo Vanska, “Orchestra Builder,” published by Kirkhouse, received the Upper Midwest Publishers Association Award for Excellence in 2011. He is working on a history of Minnesota Opera.

Susan Brodie

Susan Brodie is a New York-based writer who has been publishing reviews, essays and interviews for 15 years. Her work has appeared  online and in print in publications like American Record Guide, Opera News, Early Music America, The Log Journal, and Classical Voice North America. Her interests center on vocal music, and span early music to Wagner to contemporary music. Before turning to criticism she worked as a singer and conductor, specializing in Baroque music, and later as a book editor. She is working on a memoir about Paris.

Gil French

Gil French is the Concert Editor of “American Record Guide,” the only independent classical music magazine remaining in the USA that reviews concerts on a national and international basis. He has also been a classical musical broadcaster, critic, and editor for other publications.

Richard S. Ginell

Music critic and program annotator Richard S. Ginell is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times, and is the Los Angeles correspondent for American Record Guide. He is also the West Coast regional editor for Classical Voice North America, maintains a blog on that website entitled From Out Of The West, and contributes to Musical America.com and San Francisco Classical Voice. He was chief music critic of the Los Angeles Daily News from 1978 to 1990, where his beat included classical music, jazz, and home audio.  He wrote over 1,600 reviews, essays and bios for the All-Music Guide, and his work has also appeared in the Gramophone, Chicago Tribune, Montreal Gazette, Emmy magazine, the Strad, and Performing Arts magazine, among others. He has written several sets of liner notes for classical and jazz CDs on the Verve, RCA Victor Red Seal, Naxos, Fantasy, Prestige, Pablo, Contemporary, Milestone, Telarc, Nonesuch, Concord, Centaur, Klavier and Koch International labels.  He has written program notes for the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, Los Angeles Opera, and several other performing arts organizations, and contributed a dozen discographical essays to “The Essential Listening Companion: Classical Music” (Backbeat Books). He also plays keyboards and maintains an extensive collection of recordings.

Michael Huebner

Michael Huebner began writing about music in the late 1970s while a graduate student at the University of Kansas. He has penned thousands of articles for the Kansas City Star, Austin American-Statesman and
Birmingham (Ala.) News. Coverage has included reviews, features, festivals, travel, and various other topics. Upon retiring from the News in 2014, he started artsBHAM.com, an online source for arts reviews and features, and continues to cover the arts in Alabama’s largest arts market.

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition from the University of Kansas, with additional composition studies at the University of Toronto and ethnomusicology at the University of Texas. An avid traveler, he has taken nine Himalayan treks and traveled extensively in India, Southeast Asia and Japan.

William Littler

William Littler is the music and dance columnist for The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, and has been writing for it for more than 40 years. Previously he was music critic of the Vancouver Sun, and has written for many other publications, including the New York Times. He teaches at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and has lectured and taught at other institutions including the University of Vienna.

Nancy Malitz

Nancy Malitz is the founding music critic at USA Today and a pioneer in journalism on the internet. At the Detroit News she moved into senior management and focused on media change with Gannett newspapers. She spearheaded the creation of Classical Voice North America, web magazine of the Music Critics Association of North America, and is a member of the executive editing team. She has written for the New York Times among other publications and is a former MCANA president. With her husband and fellow critic Lawrence B. Johnson, she created the performing arts web magazine Chicago On the Aisle.

Sarah Bryan Miller

Sarah Bryan Miller has been the classical music critic of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch since September 1, 1998. Her first career was as a Chicago-based mezzo-soprano, singing with numerous opera companies and orchestras, in what was then the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, and in the Lyric Opera of Chicago Chorus. As a freelance writer, she was a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, Opera News, and other publications.

Composers

Anthony Cheung
Photo by Camille Tokerud

Anthony Cheung

Anthony Cheung (born 1982, San Francisco) is a composer and pianist. As a performer and advocate for new music, he is Artistic Director of the Talea Ensemble, which he cofounded in 2007. His music has been commissioned by the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, New York Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, and also performed by Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Linea, the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW ensemble, the Minnesota Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the French National Orchestras of Lille and Lorraine, among others. He has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and ASCAP, and first prize in the Sixth International Dutilleux Competition (2008), as well as a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome (2012). He has also received commissions from the Koussevitzky and Fromm foundations. From 2015-17, he is the Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow of the Cleveland Orchestra. His music has been programmed at festivals such as Ultraschall, Cresc. Biennale, Présences, impuls, Wittener Tage, Présences, Heidelberger Frühling, Helsinki Festival and Musica Nova Helsinki, Centre Acanthes, Musica, and Nuova Consonanza. A portrait CD, Roundabouts, was released with the Ensemble Modern in 2014, and his music and performances have also appeared on New Focus Recordings, Tzadik, and Mode. As a writer and scholar, he has completed a dissertation on György Ligeti (on the Hamburg Concerto, 2010), as well as articles on contemporary music for both specialists and a general readership. Primary musical interests include notational aesthetics, jazz improvisation and transcription, microtonality and alternate tunings, rhythmic polyphony, and temporal perception, and his music also engages poetic imagery, syntax and rhetoric, natural phenomena, and the visual arts. Anthony received a BA in Music and History from Harvard and a doctorate from Columbia University, where he taught and also served as assistant conductor of the Columbia University Orchestra. He was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Chicago. For more information, please visit: acheungmusic.com

Zosha Di Castri
Photo by David Adamcyk

 

Zosha Di Castri

Zosha Di Castri is a Canadian composer and pianist based in New York. Her works, which have been performed in Canada, the USA, South America, Asia, and Europe, extend beyond pure concert music, to include projects with electronics, sound arts, and collaborations with video and dance.

Her most recent commission was for Dear Life, a 25-minute work for orchestra, soprano, and recorded narrator, based on a short story by Alice Munro, for the National Arts Center Orchestra of Canada. Other large-scale projects include a 2015 evening-length new music theatre piece, Phonobellow (co-written with David Adamcyk) for ICE with performances in New York and Montreal. Phonobellow features five musicians, a large kinetic sound sculpture, electronics, and video in a reflection on the influence of photography and phonography on human perception.

Her orchestral compositions have been commissioned by John Adams, the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, and Esprit Orchestra, and have been featured by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Tokyo Symphony, Amazonas Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, among others. Zosha has made appearances with the Chicago Symphony, the L.A. Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players in their chamber music serie,s and has worked with many leading new music groups, including Talea Ensemble, Wet Ink, Ekmeles, Yarn/Wire, the NEM, and JACK Quartet.

She was recipient of the 2012 Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music for her work, Cortège, and participated in Ircam’s Manifeste Festival in Paris, writing an interactive electronic work for ZOO, Thomas Hauert’s dance company.

Other recent projects include a new string quartet for the Banff International String Quartet Competition, a two-piano piece for Yarn/Wire, a piece for two percussionists and electronics premiered at Zosha’s Miller Theatre composer portrait concert in December 2016, and a solo piano work for Julia Den Boer, commissioned by the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust Fund.

Upcoming projects include an ongoing solo percussion collaboration with Diego Espinosa, a duo with violinist Jenny Koh, a Koussevitzky commission from the Library of Congress for Steve Schick and ICE, an octet for JACK Quartet and Parker Quartet, and a new work for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Kent Nagano.

Zosha received her Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance and Composition at McGill University, and her doctorate from Columbia University in composition. She is currently the Francis Goelet Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia.

Yuta Bandoh

 

Yuta Bandoh

Born in 1991 in Osaka, Yuta Bandoh attended the high school affiliated with Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music and later advanced to the University, graduating with a major in musical composition. He studied composition under Teruyuki Noda, Akio Yasuraoka, and Ichiro Nodaira, and piano with Masako Nakai.

Bandoh’s compositions have been performed widely both inside and outside Japan: by the French National Radio Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic, the New Japan Philharmonic, Izumi Sinfonietta Osaka, Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music Symphony Orchestra, Art respirant, and Ensemble Multilaterale, as well as LAPS Ensemble, Ensemble Muromachi, Juliette Hurel, Benoit Fromanger, and Ueli Wiget (Ensemble Modern). Bandoh was a recipient of the Yoshio Hasegawa Prize in 2012, the Acanthus Musical Prize in 2013, the 83rd Japan Concours in 2014, and the Akutagawa Composition Prize in 2015.

John Cage
Photo by Ken Howard

John Cage

John Cage, one of the most influential composers of the 20th Century, was born in 1912 in Los Angeles, California. After studying with Arnold Schoenberg, he went on to teach at the Cornish School in Seattle in 1937. In 1940, he invented the prepared piano, which allowed him to imitate various percussion instruments on a single instrument by placing objects between the strings. After moving to New York in 1942, he continued expanding definitions of composition, using audio tape collage techniques, graphic scores, and chance processes to generate music. In 1952 he premiered his controversial work 4’33”—which consists of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. In 1962 Cage, who was already interested in Zen Buddhism and other aspects of Japanese life and philosophy, visited Japan for the first time. He also was a visual artist, first making prints in 1978. In 1989 he received the prestigious Kyoto Award, and he died in 1992.

Norio Fukushi

Norio Fukushi

Born in Tokyo in 1945, Norio Fukushi received a M.A. from Tokyo University of the Arts in 1969. After graduation he and four other composers organized a group called Shiranami and gave three self-produced concerts. He was granted a scholarship by French Government and studied in France from 1973 to 1975. Fukushi studied harmony with Akio Yashiro, and composition with Tomojiro Ikenouchi, Makoto Moroi, Akira Miyoshi and Olivier Messiaen.

In 1972, he received The Award of Excellence in National Art Festival held by Agency for Cultural Affairs. He organized the group Ensemble Vent d′Orient in 1977 and won the first Nakajima Contemporary Music Prize in 1983 for the performance and planning of music from the period of Schoenberg. Dancing Flower Leaves in a Frost was premiered in 2003 in the project “The Field of Chamber Music III”, which was awarded the 3rd Saji Keizo Prize.  His chamber music works were played at Kusatsu International Summer Music Academy and Festival in 1992, and in 2004, the exhibition of his recent works was held in Tokyo. His main works have been performed in the United States, Canada, and Asia as well as in Europe.

His compositions include three orchestral pieces, more than 20 chamber works, and solo pieces for voice and instruments, including Japanese traditional instruments such as koto and san-gen (shamisen).  Many of his works were published and recorded into CDs such as Norio Fukushi / Radiant Starlight Pouring Down in Autumn Season (fontec, 2005), and Dancing Flower Leaves in a Forest / Norio Fukushi Chamber Music II (camerata, 2007).

He has served as a president of JSCM, a vice president of FCA (Japan Federation of Authors and Composers Associations), and a judge for the Music Competition of Japan. After teaching as a professor of post graduate course at Kunitachi College of Music, he currently teaches at Tokyo University of the Arts, Toho Gakuen School of Music and Tokyo College of Music as a guest professor.

Tomiko Kohjiba

Tomiko Kohjiba

Tomiko Kohjiba is an increasingly sought-after composer in the U.S. and Europe, as well as in her native Japan. Born in Hiroshima, she graduated from a high school connected with Hiroshima University. In 1979, she entered the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music and went on to earn her post-graduate degree there in composition. Before entering the university she had composed the Introduction and Allegro for Orchestra, a quartet for two alto flutes, cello, and harpsichord, and a choral work, Kotobaasobi-Uta, which won the competition at the Kanagawa Festival and was broadcast on Japanese radio in 1977. In 1979 Kohjiba composed Requiem Hiroshima, presenting the work the following year to her native city. She later rewrote much of the piece, and in 1985 Leonard Bernstein suggested that the work be programmed by the European Community Orchestra. “Requiem” gained her recognition throughout the world, and was subsequently included in Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. Kohjiba has since received numerous commissions, including The Transmigration of the Soul, which premiered at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival where she was a composer in residence in 1995.  She often utilizes traditional Japanese instruments such as the shakuhachi (a vertical bamboo flute) and sho (a bamboo wind instrument) in her compositions. Kohjiba is currently a Professor of Music at the Tokyo College of Music.

Ichiro Nodaira

Ichiro Nodaira

Born in 1953 in Tokyo, Japan, Ichiro Nodaira is a highly acclaimed pianist and composer. After obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees from Tokyo International University of Fine Art and Music, Mr. Nodaira went to Paris in 1978 on a scholarship from the French government to study at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris. After his time at the Conservatoire, he studied with Gyorgy Ligeti, Brian Ferneyhough, and Franco Donatoni in lecture classes in Darmstadt, Sienna, and Aix en-Provence. He also studied electro-acoustic and computer music while with Ensemble de l’iteneraire and IRCAM.

As a pianist, Mr. Nodaira has performed a wide range of repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary. He has performed with renowned orchestras inside and outside of Japan and performed internationally in Europe, Asia, and the US. From 1994 to 2000 he was the first music director of the Tokyo Sinfonietta, a chamber orchestra specializing in contemporary works written after the Second World War.

Mr. Nodaira has composed more than 80 works for a wide range of musical formats including orchestral, chamber, solo instruments, opera, voice, traditional Japanese, and electro-acoustic media. Mr. Nodaira taught at Tokyo National University of Fine Art and Music from 1990 to 2002. He has been the artistic director of Concert Hall Shizuoka AOI since 2005.

Fuyuhiko Sasaki

Fuyuhiko Sasaki

Fuyuhiko Sasaki 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 Fine Arts and Music.  He is also a renowned player of the kugo, a large ancient harp of Oriental origin, and has appeared in numerous concerts and music festivals as well as on recordings both in Japan and abroad.  He has released 4 CD albums: Jesus bleibet meine Freude, Dona Nobis Pacem, Resurection with You and Kugo, Ancient Resonance Reborn, which received an “Outstanding CD” award from the review Recorded Art.

Hiroyuki Yamamoto

Hiroyuki Yamamoto

Born in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan in 1967, Hiroyuki Yamamoto studied composition with Akira Kitamura, Jo Kondo and Isao Matsushita. He received both his bachelor and master’s degrees in composition from Tokyo University of the Arts. A prolific composer, Yamamoto has composed about 100 pieces including works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, solo instruments, and electronic media. They have been performed by Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble Contemporain de Montreal, Trio Fibonacci, Nieuw Ensemble, Okeanos Ensemble, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Cairo Symphony Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Music Practica, Quartet Excelsior, and Ensemble Contemporary α.

In 1990, Yamamoto helped establish TEMPUS NOVUM with Haruyuki Suzuki, Yoshifumi Tanaka, Hiroshi Yokoshima, and others. In addition to his work in composition, Yamamoto directed ENSEMBLE d’AME (Tokyo) for four years from 1997-2001. In 2003 he joined the faculty at Iwate University and in 2009 he joined the faculty at Aichi University of the Arts. Mr. Yamamoto currently resides in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. http://japanesecomposers.info

Akiko Yamane

Akiko Yamane

Born in Osaka in 1982, 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.”


Lecturers

Ken Azuma

Ken Azuma

Born in 1969, Ken Azuma joined NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) as an announcer in 1993. He has worked at various NHK Broadcast Stations including those in Ooita, Takamatsu, Tokyo, Fukushima, Yokohama and back to Fukushima. He served for a total of seven years in Fukushima before and after the Great Eastern Earthquake. He served as a caster for the evening prefectural-wide show “HamaNakaAizu Today” from 2005 to 2009, and from 2015 to present. From 2009 to 2011 he was an announcer for the national news program “Good Morning Japan.”

Hironori Kaketa

Hironori Kaketa

Born in Date City, Fukushima Prefecture in 1937, Hironori Kaketa graduated from Fukushima University and served as a prefectural high school teacher and then as a headmaster in Fukushima Prefecture. In addition, he has worked for the Fukushima Prefectural Education Bureau and as Curatorial Director for the Fukushima Prefectural Museum. Currently a part-time faculty member at Aizu University, he is also a member of the Fukushima Committee for Protection of Important Prefectural Properties and leads the Society of Folkloric Performing Arts Fukushima Survey Committee.

Yoko Narazaki

Yoko Narazaki

Yoko Narazaki received her Ph.D in musicology from Tokyo National University of the Arts in 1992. She is the author of The Compositional Style of Toru Takemitsu and Akira Miyoshi: Atonality and Tone Cluster Techniques, editor of Orchestral Works by Japanese Composers 1912-1992 and co-editor of A Way Alone: Writings on Toru Takemitsu. She is a contributor to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd Edition) and a professor at Musashino College of Music.

Shun-Ichi Tanaka

Shun-ichi Tanaka

Shun-ichi Tanaka was born and 1945 and received his PhD in Nuclear Science Engineering in 1967. He is currently the Vice President of the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI) and the Director General of the Tokai Research Establishment at the JAERI. He also served as Vice-Chair of the Atomic Energy Commission of Japan, Chair of the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan, and is currently the Adviser for recovery of Iitate-mura.

Naoko Terauchi

Naoko Terauchi

Naoko Terauchi is a professor at the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies at Kobe University. She received her M.A. at Tokyo National University of the Arts in 1987 and D.L. at Osaka University in 1999. In 1996 she was invited as a visiting lecture to UCLA, and was a Columbia visiting professor in 2006 when she was appointed a Japan Cultural Envoy. Her research interests focus on the performing arts of Japan and Asia. Recent publications include, Japanese Traditional Music: Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai 1941, Analytical and Cross-Cultural Studies in World Music, A History of Japanese Theatre (co-authored), and Shiba Sukeyasu to gagaku no gendai.