University of Maryland, Baltimore County

April 4-6, 2003


In Cooperation with the Embassy of Japan

Additional Support from Japan Airlines, the Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution,

The Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Maryland State Arts Council

Guest Composers:

Joji Yuasa

Toshi Ichiyanagi

Tokuhide Niimi

Akira Nishimura

Western art music has existed for a relatively short time in Japan – it is only since the 1950’s, countering Japan’s rush to adopt all that is “Western,” that some composers, led by Yuasa (b.1929), Mayuzumi (1929-97), Takemitsu (1930-96), and Ichiyanagi (b.1933), began to move away from stylistic modeling of nineteenth-century European forms and twentieth-century dodecaphony towards a more individualistic approach. Concerned with reflecting philosophical and musical elements from their own culture, they began to discover and develop their “own music.” The music of these artists reflects a new global confluence of multiple cultures - a powerful cross-fertilization of aesthetics and musical characteristics from both East and West. The music is reflective of a variety of aspects of contemporary Japanese and Western societies, while at the same time deeply rooted in a traditional culture that has evolved over many years.

UMBC will host a three-day symposium of performances, lecture-recitals, panel discussions, and paper presentations on topics that concern Japanese music from the widest possible range of disciplines and expertise. Four guest composers of international stature will participate in the symposium – Toshi Ichiyanagi, who worked with John Cage in the early 1960’s in New York, and has ever since introduced Japan to experimental music; Joji Yuasa, who was a member of the jikken kobo in the 1950's and a Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego from 1981-94; Akira Nishimura, who has received numerous international awards and commissions for his music that is influenced by historic Japanese music and elements from other Asian cultures; and Tokuhide Niimi, who has received international recognition for works that span musical genres from ballet, to choral, to orchestral and chamber music, to music for traditional Japanese instruments.

Performances during the symposium will include a broad range of works for different genres (solo instrument, chamber music, computer and electronic music, traditional instruments) by Yuasa, Ichiyanagi, Nishimura, and Niimi, as well as other Japanese composers. They will include the premiere of a new work by Nishimura. The performers for these concerts will include RUCKUS (the contemporary music ensemble at UMBC), faculty and students of the UMBC Department of Music, and guest musicians from the Baltimore/Washington DC area and other international new music centers including Ossia (new music ensemble from the Eastman School of Music), and pianist Paul Hoffmann.

This symposium is the fifth in a series of events since 1992 to address Japanese and other Asian musics, organized by Tanosaki and Richards. Visit the websites of the other four to view programs, abstracts, papers, and lecture transcriptions – Asian Music in America: A Confluence of Two Worlds, and Music of Japan Today:  Tradition and Innovation I (1992), II (1994), and III (1997).

Schedule of events

Visiting Scholars and Musicians

Registration and Lodging

About UMBC and its Department of Music

Travel to UMBC