• Thursday, Nov 4, 2010

    Composer Tōru Takemitsu Celebrated During Carnegie Hall’s JapanNYC Festival This December



    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 15

    Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies at Columbia University Presents Concert
    of Traditional Hōgaku Instruments in Honor of Takemitsu, December 16

    A Tribute to Tōru Takemitsu Features Jazz Arrangements on
    Film 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 combinations.

    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 Yahiro.

    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 Forum

    JapanNYC 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.

    • WOMAN IN THE DUNES (1964, Hiroshi Teshigahara) (12/3, 12/4)
    • YOUTH OF JAPAN (HYMN TO A TIRED MAN) (1968, Masaki Kobayashi) Introduced by Peter Grilli, President of Japan Society, Boston, with excerpts from a 1994 documentary on Takemitsu. (12/4)
    • ANTONIO GAUDI (1984, Hiroshi Teshigahara) (12/5, 12/6)
    • THE CEREMONY (1971, Nagisa Oshima) (12/5)
    • THE FACE OF ANOTHER (1966, Hiroshi Teshigahara) (12/7)
    • CHINMOKU (SILENCE) (1971, Mashiro Shinoda) (12/7)
    • PITFALL (1962, Hiroshi Teshigahara) (12/8)
    • PALE FLOWER in a new 35mm print (1964, Masahiro Shinoda) (12/8)
    • HIMATSURI (1985, Mitsuo Yanagimachi) (12/9)
    • ALONE ON THE PACIFIC (1963, Kon Ichikawa) (12/9)
    • KWAIDAN (1964, Masaki Kobayashi) (12/10)
    • SAMURAI REBELLION (1967, Masaki Kobayashi) (12/10)
    • HARAKIRI (1962, Masaki Kobayashi) (12/11)
    • RAN (1985, Akira Kurosawa) (12/12, 12/13)
    • DODES’KA-DEN (1970, Akira Kurosawa) (12/14)
    • EMPIRE OF PASSION (1978, Nagisa Oshima) (12/14).
    • BALLAD OF ORIN (MELODY IN GREY) (1977, Masahiro Shinoda) (12/15, 12/16)
    • BAD BOYS (1961, Susumu Hani) Introduced by Peter Grilli, president of Japan Society, Boston. (12/16)
    • SHE AND HE (1963, Susumu Hani) (12/16)

    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 attendance.

    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 Yahiro.

    Program Information
    Friday, December 3 to Thursday, December 16
    Film Forum
    209 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

    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 Theatre
    Columbia University
    2960 Broadway
    New York, NY 10027

    Yukio Tanaka, Biwa
    Kifu Mitsuhashi, Shakuhachi
    James Schlefer, Shakuhachi
    Yoko Nishi, Koto

    TRADITIONAL Tsuru no sugomori
    KINSHI TSURUTA Dan no ura
    MICHIO MIYAGI Haru no umi
    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 University.

    Friday, December 17 at 7:30 p.m.
    Zankel Hall

    Kazumi Watanabe, Guitar
    Daisuke Suzuki, Guitar
    coba, Accordion
    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.

    Ticket Information
    Tickets for events taking place at Carnegie Hall are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street, or can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, carnegiehall.org.

    For tickets to JapanNYC partner events, please contact the specific venue.

    A JapanNYC Festival Passport, priced at $10, saves 15% or more on all events at Carnegie Hall and many partner events during JapanNYC. The Passport is available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, through CarnegieCharge, or at carnegiehall.org. Some restrictions apply.

    For Carnegie Hall Corporation presentations taking place in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, a limited number of seats, priced at $10, will be available day-of-concert beginning at 11:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:00 noon on Sunday until one hour before the performance or until supply lasts. The exceptions are Carnegie Hall Family Concerts and gala events. These $10 tickets are available to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis at the Carnegie Hall Box Office only. There is a two-ticket limit per customer.

    In addition, for all Carnegie Hall presentations in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage a limited number of partial view (seats with obstructed or limited sight lines or restricted leg room) will be sold for 50% of the full price. For 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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