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"Asian Music Festival 2010 in Tokyo"

Yoshihiro Kanno
Composer and Professor at Waseda University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Intermedia Art and Science

The "Asian Music Festival" was held on October 1 - 6 this year, as part of the Tokyo Culture Creation Project. Held over six days with the Tokyo government as the main promoter, and the Japan Federation of Composers Inc. and Tokyo University of the Arts among the co-sponsors, eight concerts, a symposium, workshops and lectures took place, and produced great results as a cultural exchange through music for Asia and Japan.

Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra

The highlights of this festival were the "Piano Concert", "Orchestra Concert," "Digital Music in Asia" (a concert from the genre of electronic and computer generated music), and "Chorus Concert", which were held under the premise of being self-composed and self-performed by the composers. 30 composers from Vietnam, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Malaysia, and Singapore came to Japan and gathered under the same roof with works from 35 Japanese composers, bringing forth great results with their performances. We are now in an era where there is virtually no difference in the amount of information content and tools used regardless of the country. Be it orchestra or computer music, everyone can listen to them. But when watching them all in the same venue, the music and disposition is different, and the line up is actually diverse and interesting.

Yakushiji gigaku (an ancient masked dance)

On the 3rd night, at the "Orchestra Concert 2," performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and labeled "Composers as Conductors, " composers from Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan conducted their pieces and set the audience alight. On top of being surprised by such variety because you wouldn't think the same orchestra was performing, I would like to once again applaud the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra who superbly played those various pieces with different expressions from each composer, as well as putting in a powerful performance.

Giant orchestra of Japanese instruments

As the theme of this festival, despite it being an Asian music festival, was "Sound and Spirit of Japan," there was a shakuhachi performance, playing numbers composed by an Australian composer, and a concert of a giant orchestra of Japanese instruments with 100 members, and a staging of the Yakushiji gigaku "Priest Sanzo's Journey in Search of Buddhism." This "pantomime" with a classical feeling, combining the worlds of dance, theatre and storytelling, using ceremonial court music composed by Sukeyasu Shiba, resembled the era when Japan and Asia were joined together.

Shakuhachi workshop

In this way, the project to have composers from around the world gather and perform in Japan brought about the true sense of "exchange". It was also a good opportunity to renew one's appreciation of the marked individuality of each type of music living in the same era. And it was six days where we, as fellow human beings, could confirm our "extremely close relationships."

Yoshihiro Kanno
composer and professor at Waseda University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Intermedia Art and Science

University of Fine Arts and Music with the Master's Degree in 1980.In 1979, he won the Prince Pierre of Monaco Musical Composition Award for his "String Quartet". In 1994, his "Les Temps des Miroirs--L'Horizontale du Vent" for ryuteki, sho, and electronic music became the recommended work of International Music Council sponsored by UNESCO.
Kanno's compositions are founded on three genres--the Western orchestral music, the Japanese traditional instruments, and the computer music. Employing the various elements freely and unboundedly, he has composed a number of pieces based on Japanese idioms and traditions.