University of Maryland, Baltimore County

March 30-April 1, 2007

under the auspices of The Embassy of Japan, Washington, D.C.

with support from the Norheast Asia Council, Japan-US Friendship Commission,

The Japan Foundation, New York, The Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC,

and the University of Maryland Baltimore County


Guest Composers:

Hiroyuki Itoh

Hiroyuki Yamamoto

Shirotomo Aizawa


Retsuzan Tanabe - shakuhachi

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 hosted 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.

The three featured composers of international stature from Japan represent a generation born after 1960 - composers who were pupils of Yuasa, Miyoshi, Ikebe, Noda, and Kondo. Hiroyuki Itoh, a winner of international composition prizes in Europe and Japan (including the prestigious Akutagawa Award), has been commissioned and performed by major ensembles including the New Japan Philharmonic, the Nieuw Ensemble, and the Arditti Quartet; Hiroyuki Yamamoto, whose works have been performed at Forum '91 (Montreal), Gaudeamus Music Week '94 (Holland), and ISCM World Music Days (2000 in Luxembourg and 2001 in Yokohama), has received prizes for his work, including the Japan Music Competition, Toru Takemitsu Composition Award, and Akutagawa Award; and Shirotomo Aizawa, winner of an Ataka Prize, and composition prize from the National Theater in Japan. He has studied composition in Tokyo, Berlin, and Vienna, and conducting with Seiji Ozawa, among others.

Performances during the symposium included a broad range of works for different genres (solo instrument, chamber music, computer and electronic music, traditional instruments) by Itoh, Yamamoto, and Aizawa, as well as other Japanese composers. They included premieres of new works by the guest composers. The performers for these concerts included shakuhachi master Retsuzan Tanabe, as well as faculty and students of the UMBC Department of Music, and guest musicians from the Baltimore/Washington DC area and other international new music centers. This symposium was the sixth in a series of events since 1992 to address Japanese and other Asian musics, organized by Kazuko Tanosaki and E. Michael Richards. Visit the websites of the other five to view programs, abstracts, papers, and lecture transcriptions – Music of Japan Today 2003; Asian Music in America: A Confluence of Two Worlds (1999); and Music of Japan Today:  Tradition and Innovation I (1992), II (1994), and III (1997).

Schedule of events, abstracts, and program notes

Music of Japan Today (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK, 2008), edited by E. Michael Richards & Kazuko Tanosaki

Music of Japan Today Discography (CSP - updated June 27, 2008)

Call for Visiting Scholars and Musicians

About UMBC and its Department of Music

Travel to UMBC