Toru Takemitsu Composition Award[Results]


Akira Nishimura

Akira Nishimura (Japan)


Chikara Iwamura, conductor / Tokyo philharmonic Orchestra


  • 1st Prize
    Sho Ueda (Japan)Profile&Speech
    Never Stand Behind Me
    Cash Award
    1,200,000 yen
  • 2nd Prize
    Andrea Portera (Italy)Profile&Speech
    Cash Award
    750,000 yen
  • 3rd Prize
    Man Fang (China)Profile&Speech
    AQUA - In memoriam Toru Takemitsu
    Cash Award
    350,000 yen
    YiMing Wu (China)Profile&Speech
    Reminiscence of a dream
    Cash Award
    350,000 yen
    Jonas Valfridsson (Sweden)Profile&Speech
    In Killing Fields Sweet Butterfly Ascend
    Cash Award
    350,000 yen
M.Fang, S.Ueda, A.Nishimura, A.Portera, J.Valfridsson, Y.Wu photo © Tokyo Opera City Cultural Foundation

M.Fang, S.Ueda, A.Nishimura, A.Portera, J.Valfridsson, Y.Wu
photo © Tokyo Opera City Cultural Foundation

Comments by Akira Nishimura, Judge

Hello, my name is Akira Nishimura and I am the judge for this competition. I feel very much honored and a little nervous to be the sole judge for this world renowned and prestigious "Toru Takemitsu Composition Award." When I was twenty years old, I remember being a finalist in a similar type of competition and listening to the judge’s comments on stage. The competition was called “San nin no kai” (a group of three composers) and there were three highly respected composers on the judge panel: Ikuma Dan, Yasushi Akutagawa, and Toshiro Mayuzumi. They were speaking out without reserve about the contestants’ compositions, and I sat in the audience listening to their comments very nervously. I still remember their words and demeanor very clearly. That means I need to be very careful with my own words and manners right now, otherwise the finalists of this competition might feel the same way I did long time ago. So now I feel even more nervous! (Audience laughs.)

Here, I would like to comment on each piece in order of their performance and announce the results. The "Toru Takemitsu Composition Award" can be given to only one finalist, but I would like to rank to each one since that has been the tradition in the past. However, there is no guarantee that there will be only one first place winner, and there can be multiple winners in each place. There are five finalists, so there might be four or five places. These are the possibilities.

*Man Fang “AQUA in memoriam Toru Takemitsu”
This is an outstanding piece. In employing transforming sound waves to create a landscape of light and water, it offered a superb unity. The second movement, "AQUA," was fascinating to me. The third movement, although short, had poetic emotional expression and was also very impressive. This piece wins the third place.

*YiMing Wu "Reminiscence of a Dream"
I thought this was a beautiful, dream-like piece, just as the title suggests. The orchestration is very skillfully done. With rich, nuanced sonorities and sensual motives that appear one after another, it holds the listener spellbound. I imagine this piece might have been the most popular piece among the audience. This piece also wins the third place.

*Jonas Valfridsson "In Killing Fields Sweet Butterfly Ascend"
This piece has an attractive title, but possesses a very delicate and individual style. It is a splendid piece with a mysterious poetic sentiment and psychological drama that is written in bold, unique, and yet concise manner. This piece also wins the third place.

If I continue this way, you might think all the pieces will be given third place (audience laughs), but that is not the case.

*Andrea Portera "CUBE"
This piece is full of imagination. There are fresh musical effects and the orchestration is very detailed and refined. Also, the notation was superb. The second movement was especially wonderful. The structure of the whole piece was well-organized, and I think listeners found the impressive and attractive fifth and sixth movement enticing. This piece wins the second place.

*Sho Ueda "Never Stand Behind Me"
Mr. Ueda has been a finalist for the "Toru Takemitsu Composition Award" twice before, in 2000 and 2004. So this is his third time. I listened to those previous compositions in the past competitions, and this time I thought his musical content and language were even more intense, and his contrasts varied. I was surprised with his bold orchestration, and sometimes I thought he was aiming for too much effect. But neither does it have an empty quality and it is very persuasive in portraying a vivid description of the composer’s inner drama. I could feel a plaintive pathos within the harshness, and perhaps this might be the reflection of the composer’s life. I wonder how Mr. Takemitsu would consider this kind of monster-like piece, which sometimes has ferocious sounds, and is unconventional and extreme in style. However, to tell you the truth, my compositions also have this tendency sometimes, and Mr. Takemitsu once said to me: "Nishimura, you need to get rid of more notes. It’s too noisy." I replied "I cannot get rid of any more notes. This is the minimum I need." Mr. Takemitsu laughed and said "Well, what can you do?" and forgave me. So, maybe Mr. Takemitsu would have rather enjoyed Mr. Ueda’s piece, and respected his talent.

As part of a new generation of composers, Mr. Ueda challenged himself to expand the orchestra’s palette of sound. This is a significant matter. However, this kind of problematic piece will have pros and cons, and some people might hate it or some might really like it. So my mind is split as well. Since there are second place and third place already, I thought of asking the audience to raise their hands whether this piece should win the first place or fourth place. But that doesn’t make much sense either …so I will make the decision. I know somebody might make an objection. So if you don’t like the result, you can throw tomato at me…I would like to announce that Mr. Ueda wins the first place this time.

Finally, there is the question of the prize money. Since I was told I can divide 3,000,000 yen anyway I want, I decided that the first place would be 1,200,000 yen for Mr. Ueda, second place would be 750,000 yen for Mr. Portera, and third place would be 350,000 yen each for Ms. Fang, Mr. Wu, and Mr. Valfridsson.

There were a total of 156 entries submitted from composers all around the world, and all the compositions were of very high quality. And the finalists who came here today have wonderful talent and I feel very fortunate to judge these excellent compositions. Some of these compositions were difficult to perform, but Tokyo Philharmonic and the conductor Mr. Iwamura did a superb job. Let me take this opportunity to express my gratitude to them as well. Thank you very much.


1st Prize
Sho Ueda (Japan)
Never Stand Behind Me

Born in Shizuoka city. Finished the master’s degree in composition and musical theory at the Tokyo College of Music, and won the third prize of the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award in 2000 and the second prize in 2004. Nominated as one of the Akutagawa Composition Award in 2001 and 2005. Awarded of Nagoya Award for Cultural Promotion in 2001. Received the Honorable Mention of the JFC composition award and selected for the International Gaudeamus Music Week both in 2002.

2nd Prize
Andrea Portera (Italy)

Born in Grosseto, Toscana. He studied composition at Music school of Fiesole with M. Manzoni and Luis De Pablo. And then he studied in Cherubini conservatoire with S. Bussotti. He has awarded many prizes in national and international composer competitions; won the first prize of International Competition Valentino Bucchi in 2002, the frist prize of the composer competition Evangelisti in Roma in 2004, and the third prize of the International Composers Competition Lepo Sumera in Estonia in 2006 and others… He is currently a supervisor of the music for the magazine “Chitarre and Percussioni” and teaching analysis and video-musical writing at Music scholl of Fiesole.

3rd Prize
Man Fang (China)
AQUA ~ in memoriam Toru Takemitsu

Born in Jiu Jians city. Began to study piano at the age of five and composition at twelve. Entered Xinghai Conservatory of Music at fourteen, and she won the first place to enter the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1995. Received the Bachelor of Muisc Digree in 2000, and then studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Since fall in 2002, she has been pursuing her Doctor degree at Cornell University. Received many awards and fellowships. Participated in international music festivals and workshops and her pieces has performed by Minnesota Orchestra and Orchestra National de Lorraine and others. Most recently, she is among ten composers chosen by IRCAM for the one-year composion and computer progam 06-07, and will compose a piece using new technology to be peremired at Espace de projection of IRCAM, Paris in September 2007. And she has been awarded a commission for a piece to be premiered by American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 2008.

3rd Prize
YiMing Wu (China)
Reminiscence of a dream

Born in Wu Xi city. Started to study piano when he was very young, and graduated the Beijing Opera Arts School with good results in 2002. In the same year, he enterd the Central Conservatory Music in Beijing and is currently studying there. He composed the electoric music Forms of Shape in 2000, First symphony for chamber ensemble in 2004, Swans for 12 Shengs in 2005 and Freedom Imagination in 2006.

3rd Prize
Jonas Valfridsson (Sweden)
In Killing Fields Sweet Butterfly Ascend

Born in Jönköping. After his musical career as a jazz and rock guitarist, he began to study composition at Gotlands School of Music Composition in 1999. Graduated from School of Stage and Music, Gothenburg University in 2005, he continued to study with Marco Stroppa at conservatoire national de musique et de danse du Paris. He is currently studying with Pär Lindgren at Royal Academy of Music, Stockholm. Received many awards and honarable mentions and his pieces has been performed in many festivals and workshops.

Year 2021

Pascal Dusapin (France)

Year 2022

Brian Ferneyhough (United Kingdom)

Year 2023

Jo Kondo (Japan)

Year 2024

Mark-Anthony Turnage (United Kingdom)

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