Wednesday, July 9, 2008

European Culture and Japan


Here is a photograph I took last night in Paris of the statues at Trocadero, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. There were also many Japanese tourists taking photos at this same location. I am on my way to present research on Japanese wind bands at the IGEB conference in Luxembourg. Using a phenomenological approach, I will discuss various perspectives on conducting the works of Japanese wind composers, as well as the Saito Method of conducting. Below is the abstract of my paper:





Conducting Japanese Wind Music: Analytical and Phenomenological Insights

Increasingly, myriad statistics lend support to the claim that Japan has become an important center for Western art music in recent years, an ironic assertion considering its obvious geographic and cultural distance from Europe. The field of wind music is particularly illustrative regarding this point, since Japan is among the world’s largest markets for wind band sheet music and sound recordings, and is home to the largest wind instrument manufacturer, the largest band competition, and even professional wind bands that resemble major symphony orchestras in terms of subscription ticket sales, world premiere performances and recorded releases. Many notable wind compositions for professional-level and amateur ensembles have been produced by Japanese composers, most of which have yet to attain attention outside Japan. Using analytical and phenomenological perspectives, this study describes the experience of conducting two Japanese works for amateur wind bands: Tetsunosuke Kushida’s Asuka and Hiroshi Hoshina’s Fu-Mon. The author has interviewed both composers in Japan, and recently conducted these pieces in 2008 with the All-State Honor Band at the annual festival of Connecticut Independent Schools. This study grapples with the notion of wind conductor as “agent” in the cultural mediation of hybrid genres, and includes discussion of implications for how wind music from other non-western nations might be approached in a manner that arguably ensures “authenticity” and cultural sensitivity.

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