Photo by Tony Davis
For its second orchestral concert at Carnegie Hall, Music From Japan presented four American premieres: Symphonic Poem by Kishio Hirao, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Ryohei Hirose, Scenes from Basho by Joji Yuasa, and Lauda Concertata for Orchestra and Marimba by Akira Ifukube. All of the pieces were performed by the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sergiu Comissiona. Keiko Abe, Marimba soloist, and Yuriko Kuronuma, violin soloist, made their Carnegie premieres with this concert, and were the soloists who performed the Japanese premieres of the works by Ifukube and Hirose, respectively. Three of the four works had been written in the few years preceding the concert; however, Symphonic Poem by Kishio Hirao was written in 1942, and was chosen because of its standing as a piece that greatly influenced the trajectory of orchestral Japanese music.
Keiko Abe’s Carnegie premiere on Akira Ifukube’s piece was followed up with a recital at Japan House featuring works by Yasuo Sueyoshi, Katsuhiro Tsubonoh, David Crandell, and by Abe herself. The concert took place on January 19th.
On January 28 Music From Japan presented a concert of works for both Japanese and Western instruments at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. The program featured pieces by Kozaburo Hirai, Jo Kondo, Yoshinao Nakada, Ikuma Dan, and Teizo Matsumura, Roger Sessions, and Charles Wuorinen.
Music From Japan presented tenor Katsuumi Niwa at Japan House on April 2. For this concert MFJ brought together both American and Japanese composers, both Western and Japanese instruments, to take things to the next level of cultural exchange. Pieces by Sakuzo Sendo, Motohiko Adachi, Katsuhiro Tsubonoh, Minao Shibata, John Cage, and Samuel Barber were performed.