Photo by Akira
Japan opened its 28th season with a weekend of events in New York City's
Merkin Concert Hall in February 2003. Festival 2003 began in New York
with a recital by Keiko Nosaka on the 25-string koto and was followed
by a concert featuring new works by young Japanese composers, in which
Ms. Nosaka and her daughter, Mizuyo Komiya, took part. Both events were
accompanied by a lecture/discussion. Following Ms. Nosaka's performances
in New York, she gave recitals in New York, Washington, DC, Tennessee,
featuring new works by young Japanese composers showcased world premieres
of chamber works by Atsuhiko Gondai, Keiko Harada, Sunao Isaji, Misato
Mochizuki, Mica Nozawa and Toshiro Saruya, all commissioned by Music From
Japan for this year's festival. All of the composers are new to the Music
From Japan concert series; all were born in or after 1960, and although
they are musical contemporaries, they have very different backgrounds.
participating in the young composers concert included recognized new music
specialists such as Fred Sherry and flutist Tara Helen O'Connor, in addition
to the performers listed below. Following the concert, all six commissioned
composers joined composers Julia Wolfe and Kyle Gann for a post-concert
From Japan Festival 2002 was marked by the organization's first endeavor
in Tennessee. The gagaku group, Ensemble Harena, made its North
American debut at the Middle Tennessee State University premiering Kikuko
Massumoto's "Divertiment." This MFJ commission for the tour
was also played in Washington, DC, New York City and Toronto. The Festival
New York featured composer Akira Nishimura, including a newly commissioned
90-minute piano work premiered by the virtuosic Aki Takahashi.
Our 25th Anniversary
Season began with a commemorative tour to Central Asia in September 1999.
The festivities continued with Music From Japan Festival 2000 featuring
a world premiere of Hikaru Hayashi's commissioned work, "Lament,"
composed for the Tokyo String Quartet and "Little Landscape of Hiroshima,"
sung in Japanese by the Vox Vocal Ensemble. Additionally, we presented
the American recital debut of Tsugaru shamisen artist, Chikuzan
Takahashi, II. The season concluded with a celebration of Japanese orchestral
music on November 9, 2000 at Carnegie Hall where the Brooklyn Philharmonic
Orchestra performed under the baton of Maestro Paul Lustig Dunkel. The
featured soloists of the evening were Mayumi Miyata, shô, Alan Feinberg,
piano and Tim Ries, alto saxophone.
Music From Japan initiated the celebration of its 25th
Anniversary in September, 1999 with a concert tour that included stops
in Almaty, Kazakhstan and Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Music From Japan Festival 2000
February, 2000 marked the start of the Music
From Japan Festival 2000 which included performances in Fukushima,
Japan, Washington, DC and New York City.
Both the February 9 Washington, DC performance, (held at Japan
Information and Cultural Center, in the Japanese Embassy) and the February
13 New York City concert (held at Merkin Concert Hall) featured
the renowned master of the Tsugaru shamisen, Chikuzan Takahashi II,
who performed traditional pieces for shamisen and voice including "Shamisen
Yosare," "Tsugaru Aiya-bushi," and "The Sand Dunes of Tosa"; her own compositions
set to texts by the avant-garde poet-playwright Shuji Terayama and Misuzu
Kaneko; and shamisen improvisation.
The New York concert was followed by a symposium - "Music from Japan:
Searching Its Origins" and a keynote lecture - "The Aesthetic Roots of
Japanese Music" during which musicologist Tomiko Kojima traced the roots
of Japanese music to its earliest existence. Interpreter Sharon Ann Nakazato
moderated the panel.
On February 12, Music From Japan held an evening of events in New York
at Merkin Concert Hall starting with a lecture on the music & life of
Hikaru Hayashi, which featured Mr. Hayashi with Sharon Ann Nakazato
This was followed by a concert spotlighting the works of Hikaru Hayashi.
The Tokyo String Quartet gave a world premiere of a Music From
Japan commission with funds provided by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable
Trust. A monumental choral work which starkly and movingly chronicled
the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Little Landscapes of
Hiroshima for Mixed Chorus (1967/68) with text by Tamiki Hara, was performed
by The Vox Vocal Ensemble (George Steel, director). The composer gave
a cameo performance in his Sonata for Flute and Piano (1958/71), yet another
Music From Japan commission to see its world premiere that evening.
Performers also included Martin Goldray and Hikaru Hayashi, piano; Susan
Palma Nidel, flute; Eriko Sato, violin.
The Music From Japan Festival continued on November 9, 2000, with an orchestral
concert at Carnegie Hall.
Music From Japan's 23rd Season included a continuation in the series of
featured composer's concerts with a presentation of the works of Shin-ichiro
Ikebe as part of 1998 Festival New York at Merkin Concert Hall. Among
the works performed was Bivalence II, a Music From Japan commission
that premiered at the Festival. Also featured in the 1998 Festival was
the Keiji Azechi Kokyu Ensemble, who performed too, at Pasadena's Pacific
Asia Museum. This ensemble, in its American debut, offered listeners the
opportunity to hear music on the seldom heard bowed instrument from which
it takes its name. The New York season closed with a remembrance in honor
of the life and legacy of the esteemed composer Toshiro Mayuzumi, which
was led by Dr. Don Gillespie of CF Peters Corporation.
In February 1997, Music
From Japan presented a two-day Festival New York in memory of the world-renowned
composer, Toru Takemitsu, who had passed away just one year earlier.
A pair of concerts entitled "A Tribute to Toru Takemitsu" was held at
Merkin Concert Hall. Music From Japan commissioned Joji Yuasa and Lukas
Foss to write pieces in honor of the composer. The Festival included a
pre-concert lecture by noted Japanese music critic Akimichi Takeda and
a symposium entitled "Music of Toru Takemitsu and Its Legacy". John Rockwell,
then director of Lincoln Center Festival, moderated the symposium panel.
Past activities have
included a three-day festival and coast-to-coast tours featuring internationally
acclaimed soloists, and symposia covering a wide range of Japanese music-related
topics. In 1995, as the culminating event of its 20th Anniversary, Music
From Japan presented Kinkakuji, the first Japanese grand opera
ever performed in the United States, in collaboration with New York