OF ACCLAIMED JAPANESE COMPOSER TORU TAKEMITSU
CELEBRATED IN OPENING WEEKS OF CARNEGIE HALL’S JAPANNYC FESTIVAL
Takemitsu, Who Scored Many Classic Japanese Films, Is Subject of
Two-Week, 19-Movie Series at Film Forum, December 3 to 16
Seiji Ozawa and Saito Kinen Orchestra Perform Takemitsu’s November Steps
for Orchestra and Traditional Japanese Instruments at Carnegie Hall, December
Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies at Columbia University Presents Concert
of Traditional Hōgaku Instruments in Honor of Takemitsu, December 16A Tribute to Tōru Takemitsu Features Jazz Arrangements onFilm Music by the Composer in Zankel Hall, December 17
This December, the music of the
great Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu (1930–1996) is celebrated during
the opening weeks of JapanNYC, a two-part citywide festival that celebrates
Japanese arts and culture with more than 65 events at Carnegie Hall and New
York City partner venues.JapanNYC, beginning in December 2010 and continuing in March-April 2011,
explores the Japan of today, where artists embrace their country’s unique
aesthetic sensibilities while continually revitalizing its cultural landscape.
Led by renowned conductor Seiji Ozawa as the festival’s artistic director, JapanNYC
explores a country that values its long-standing cultural heritage while also
embracing and transforming Western art forms in a spirit that very much looks
ahead.(Photos from top to bottom: Toru Takemitsu; Ran; The Face of Another, Seiji
Ozawa, Yoko Nishi, coba.)
Takemitsu, the best-known Japanese composer of the twentieth century, composed
a large body of work over his lifetime—not just for the concert stage, but also
for film, theater, television, and radio. Influenced early on by Debussy and
American jazz and later by John Cage and the sounds of nature, he wrote for
both Western and traditional Japanese instruments, in original and compelling
In December, JapanNYC celebrates the remarkable scope and endless
variety of Takemitsu’s music, from a performance of November Steps—perhaps
his most renowned work for orchestra—by his close friend and colleague Seiji
Ozawa conducting the Saito Kinen Orchestra at Carnegie Hall (Wednesday,
December 15 at 8:00 p.m.) to an extensive series focusing on the composer’s
major work outside of the concert hall: a two-week film series featuring 19 of
the nearly 100 movies that Takemitsu scored, presented by festival partner Film
Forum (December 3 to 16). Also included will be a concert in honor of
Takemitsu’s interest in traditional Japanese music, presented by festival
partner the Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies at Columbia University at
the Miller Theatre (Thursday, December 16 at 6:00 p.m.). The celebration
concludes with a Zankel Hall concert curated by the composer’s daughter, Maki
Takemitsu, combining two of her father’s great passions: jazz and film
music (Friday, December 17 at 7:30 p.m.) with guitarists Kazumi Watanabe
and Daisuke Suzuki, accordionist coba, and percussionist Tomohiro
Music by Takemitsu will also be featured during the second part of JapanNYC
in March-April 2011, with André Previn conducting the NHK Symphony
Orchestra in Takemitsu’s Green and the Juilliard Percussion
Ensemble performing Rain Tree.
For a complete festival press kit, click here. Visit carnegiehall.org/japannyc
for the most up-to-date information on festival events, interviews with
artists, videos, slideshows, and other content providing insight into Japan’s
arts scene and JapanNYC festival offerings.
Maki Takemitsu’s tribute to her father with Kazumi Watanabe, Daisuke Suzuki,
coba, and Tomohiro Yahiro is also presented on December 19 by the Philharmonic
Society of Orange County at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa,
California, as part of JapanOC, a West Coast festival presented
by the Philharmonic Society from October 2010 through April 2011, thanks to the
generous support of South Coast Plaza. Additionally, Gustavo Dudamel will
conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Takemitsu’s Requiem for Strings on
March 5 as part of the West Coast edition of the festival. JapanOC marks
the second year of collaboration bringing Carnegie Hall’s festival programming
to Southern California and will feature a variety of arts events and musical
performances representing the vibrant expanse of traditional and contemporary
Japanese culture, made possible through collaborations with prominent Southern
California cultural institutions. For more information, visit philharmonicsociety.org/japanoc.December 3–16: TAKEMITSU, Two-Week Film Series at Film ForumJapanNYC partner Film Forum pays tribute to Takemitsu’s film scores with
a two-week series, TAKEMITSU, from December 3 to 16, featuring 19
of his movies, including some rarely screened works. Takemitsu wrote nearly 100
film scores in just over 40 years and in private life was an avid filmgoer,
taking in up to 300 movies in a single year. He often visited local cinemas
when visiting foreign countries even if he did not understand the language.
“The reason I love movies is because I experience them as music,” he said.
Unlike most film composers who add music to the finished image, Takemitsu
preferred total involvement in the creative process, often participating in
script revisions and making appearances on the set when permitted. With
directors who allowed him such access, Takemitsu developed inspirational
artistic collaborations, namely with Hiroshi Teshigahara, Masahiro Shinoda,
Masaki Kobayashi, and Nagisa Oshima.
As a film composer, Takemitsu was known as a master of atmosphere, utilizing
both music and real sounds in his works. His remarkable variety is also evident
in his film music, whether written to be harsh and experimental or in a lush,
romantic “Hollywood” style. And Takemitsu’s mastery of styles allowed him to
incorporate everything from stern Japanese biwa music heard in
Kobayashi’s Harakiri to the mock Renaissance music of Shinoda’s Chinmoku
(Silence). His instrumentation ranged from a full-blown Mahler-ian
orchestra (Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, for which he earned the 1987 Los
Angeles Film Critics Award) to the improvisational sounds of two prepared
pianos (his innovative score to Teshigahara’s Pitfall) to a soundtrack
comprised of a single song (Susumu Hani’s Bad Boys). No matter what,
Takemitsu always tried to be economical. “I only add music to give the audience
a little help hearing the pure music that’s already there in the images,” he
said, “in other words, it is much more important to prune away the sound than
to add more.”TAKEMITSU, programmed by Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum's Director of
Repertory Programming, with advisors Peter Grilli and Michael Jeck, includes
the following films. Visit filmforum.org for a full schedule and descriptions.
December 15: Takemitsu’s November
Steps Conducted by Seiji Ozawa at Carnegie Hall
December 16: Traditional Hōgaku Instruments at Columbia University
December 17: Improvisations on Takemitsu’s Film Music in Zankel Hall
In addition to the series at Film Forum, a trio of December concerts also pays
tribute to Takemitsu. On December 15, Carnegie Hall presents Seiji Ozawa
conducting the Saito Kinen Orchestra, biwa player Yukio Tanaka,
and shakuhachi player Kifu Mitsuhashi in Takemitsu’s 1967 work November
Steps, one of the composer’s first works to combine traditional Japanese
instruments and music with a Western classical music orchestra.
Takemitsu had initially avoided traditional Japanese music as a composer—which
reminded him too much of Japanese nationalism and militarism during World War
II—until American John Cage reintroduced him to it in the early 1960s.
Takemitsu first heard Western classical music during the war, and while
employed at an American military base afterwards, he took every opportunity he
could to listen to it on US Armed Forces Radio, resolving to be a composer
himself. Largely self-taught, Takemitsu’s first influences—which can be heard
throughout his body of work—were French composers Debussy and Messiaen, but his
style also grew to encompass jazz, electronic music, and pop, as well as mixed
media and the avant-garde.
After being reintroduced to traditional Japanese music by Cage (who became an
influence and a close colleague), Takemitsu began to write for traditional
Japanese instruments, either by themselves or incorporated into ensembles of
Western instruments. November Steps, written for the 125th anniversary
of the New York Philharmonic, is an example of the latter, placing the
traditional Japanese biwa (lute) and shakuhachi (bamboo flute)
within the orchestra. Seiji Ozawa—instrumental in securing the commission for
Takemitsu after playing the composer’s earlier Eclipse for biwa and shakuhachi
for Leonard Bernstein—conducted the premiere in November 1967, earning plaudits
from Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Krzysztof Penderecki who were all in
Takemitsu’s interest in traditional Japanese music is reflected in a free
concert of hōgaku instruments in honor of the composer presented by
festival partner the Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies at Columbia
University on December 16 at the Miller Theatre. In addition to biwa
player Yukio Tanaka and shakuhachi player Kifu Mitsuhashi
(featured in the performance of November Steps), performers include koto
player Yoko Nishi and shakuhachi player James Schlefer. In
addition to the cadenza from Takemitsu’s November Steps, works by
Yatsuhashi Kengyo, Kinshi Tsuruta, Michio Miyagi, Tadao Sawai, Makoto Moroi,
and Yukio Tanaka will be featured. For more information, visit medievaljapanesestudies.org.
The third Takemitsu concert, December 17 in Zankel Hall, is programmed in a
more contemporary spirit as the composer’s daughter Maki Takemitsu
curates an evening of jazz arrangements of her father’s film music. Featured
performers include renowned jazz guitarist Kazumi Watanabe, classical
guitarist Daisuke Suzuki (who has released a CD of Takemitsu’s complete
works for guitar), the million-selling pop accordionist and composer coba
(who has performed with Björk among others), and percussionist Tomohiro
Friday, December 3 to Thursday, December 16Film Forum209 West Houston Street
New York, NY 10014
TAKEMITSU is a 14-day festival of movies scored by the legendary Japanese
composer Tōru Takemitsu (1930-1996). Among the nineteen films to be screened
are Hiroshi Teshighara's Woman of the Dunes (1964), Masaki Kobayashi's Hara
Kiri (1962), and Akira Kurosawa's Ran (1985).
For more information:
Presented by Film Forum.
________________________________________Wednesday, December 15 at 8:00 p.m.Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
SAITO KINEN ORCHESTRA
Seiji Ozawa, Director and Conductor
Yukio Tanaka, Biwa
Kifu Mitsuhashi, Shakuhachi
TORU TAKEMITSU November Steps for Biwa, Shakuhachi, and Orchestra
HECTOR BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Tickets: $36, $43, $54, $73, $98, $108.
________________________________________Thursday, December 16 at 6:00 p.m.Miller TheatreColumbia University
New York, NY 10027
WINDS AND STRINGS OF CHANGE:
GLORIES OF THE JAPANESE TRADITIONAL MUSIC HERITAGE
Yukio Tanaka, Biwa
Kifu Mitsuhashi, Shakuhachi
James Schlefer, Shakuhachi
Yoko Nishi, Koto
YATSUHASHI KENGYO Midare
TRADITIONAL Tsuru no sugomori
KINSHI TSURUTA Dan no ura
MICHIO MIYAGI Haru no umi
TADAO SAWAI Gaku
MAKOTO MOROI Chikurai Gosho
YUKIO TANAKA Yukyu no shirabe
TORU TAKEMITSU November Steps
A concert of traditional and innovative works in honor of Tōru Takemitsu (a
recipient of an honorary doctorate from Columbia in 1996) performed by eminent
masters of Japanese hōgaku instruments.
This concert is free and open to the public. Carnegie Passport holders can
obtain select seating by bringing their Passport and presenting it at the door.
Limit four (4) people per Passport.
For more information:
Presented by the Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies at Columbia
Friday, December 17 at 7:30 p.m.Zankel Hall
A TRIBUTE TO TORU TAKEMITSU
Kazumi Watanabe, Guitar
Daisuke Suzuki, Guitar
Tomohiro Yahiro, Percussion
This concert, curated by his daughter Maki Takemitsu, features improvisations
on Takemitsu's film music, including selections from Dodes-Ka'den and
Face of Another, among others.
Pre-concert talk starts at 6:30 p.m. in Zankel Hall with Peter Grilli,
President, Japan Society of Boston.
Tickets: $30, $40.JapanNYC Lead Sponsors are Epson Corporation; Mizuho Securities USA
Inc.; Nomura Holding America Inc. and Nomura America Foundation; Kotaro ONO,
The Chairman of The ONO Group; Rohm Music Foundation; Sony Corporation; and
Yoko Nagae Ceschina.
Supporting Sponsors are Deloitte LLP; Mitsubishi International Corporation;
Suntory Holdings Limited and Suntory Hall; Takeda Pharmaceutical Company
Limited; Toshiba Corporation; and Toyota.
With additional funding from Aladdin Capital Holdings LLC; Asian Cultural
Council; The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.; GWFF USA Inc.; ITOCHU
International Inc.; J.C.C. Fund of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and
Industry of New York; Kawasaki Good Times Foundation; The NY Mets Foundation;
Nihon Unisys, Ltd.; Nippon Express Foundation, Inc.; Nippon Life Insurance
Company; Hiroko Onoyama and Ken Sugawara; Seiko Instruments Inc.; Subaru of
America, Inc.; and Sumitomo Corporation of America Foundation.
With special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts; the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of Japan; the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan; Japan
Tourism Agency; Japan National Tourism Organization; the Japan Foundation; and
the Consulate-General of Japan in New York.Bank of America is the Proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall.
Continental Airlines is the Official Airline of Carnegie Hall.
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For tickets to JapanNYC partner events, please contact the specific
A JapanNYC Festival Passport, priced at $10, saves 15% or more on all
events at Carnegie Hall and many partner events during JapanNYC. The
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Auditorium/Perelman Stage, a limited number of seats, priced at $10, will be
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In addition, for all Carnegie Hall presentations in Stern Auditorium/Perelman
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more information on this and other discount ticket programs, including those
for students, Notables members, and Bank of America customers, visit carnegiehall.org/discounts.
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