Festival Photos by Ken Howard
Keiko Nosaka
Photo by Akira Kinoshita



recent events
Festival 2003
Music From 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, and California.

The concert 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.

Performers 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 discussion.

Festival 2002
Music 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.

25th Anniversary Season
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.

Central Asian Tour
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 as interpreter.

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.

past events
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 City Opera.

(updated 10/11/03)