Toru Takemitsu Composition Award
Tuesday 19 January 2021 | Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall : Takemitsu Memorial
Yoichi Sugiyama, conductor / Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra
- 1st Prize
Xinyang Wang (China)
BORÉAS for orchestra Cash Award
- 2nd Prize
David Roche (UK)
SIX PRAYERS for orchestra Cash Award
- 3rd Prize
Francisco Domínguez (Spain)
POÈMES DE MIDI Cash Award
- 4th Prize
Carmen Ho (UK/Hong Kong)
Saṃsāra for large orchestra Cash Award
Comments by Thomas Adès, judge
(Recorded on January 19, 2021 at NHK Cosmomedia in London)
Xinyang Wang (China)
BORÉAS for orchestra
Born in Guangyuan City, Sichuan Province, China in 1989. He is a composer of classical music, currently based in Pittsburgh, USA. Holding a bachelor's degree from Sichuan Conservatory of Music and a master's degree from Manhattan School of Music both major in music composition and theory, he is completing his Ph. D. in the same area at the University of Pittsburgh. He takes inspiration from a broad spectrum of influences, such as traditional Chinese arts and its Western counterpart. He is awarded prizes in composition and has worked with eminent interpreters.
It is my great honor to receive the prestigious Toru Takemitsu Composition Award and to be able to attend the entire session in person, which is extra challenging and miraculous during the global pandemic. If it weren't for the utmost professionalism and patience of the Tokyo Opera City Cultural Foundation, none of those could have happened. The foundation's keen dedication to promoting emerging talents and good contemporary music affords tremendous hope to young composers. All of such endeavors began with a great man's generosity, the Japanese master, Toru Takemitsu, much of whose artistic thoughts I empathize with.
My first time hearing Takemitsu was epiphanic and inspired. The intricately interwoven musical components and delicately combined/juxtaposed use of the sounds from either hemisphere made the encounter more profound than revelatory. Such symbiosis of cultures has also been my musical interest. Takemitsu said in his manuscript-note-like collection, Confronting Silence, that it is "very easy to blend the cultures," and he has "no interest." As if such a perfect symbiosis is his musical nature achieved effortlessly, like an inherent language. Thinking of such, I stopped forcing the idea of cultural combination into my music-making; instead, I let everything emerge and develop most naturally, with unthinkably assiduous devotion. Pieces like Boréas epitomize just the process.
Boréas carries with my best wishes. In my country, China, one adage goes "瑞雪兆丰年," literally meaning "a timely heavy snow promises a good harvest," which also implies the coming of betterness after snow. By this blissful piece, phenomenally presented by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, I sincerely hope for the healing of our world and the coming of a healthy, blessed, and happy springtime.
David Roche (UK)
SIX PRAYERS for orchestra
Born in Tredegar in South Wales, UK in 1990. He has composed pieces for vacuum cleaners and orchestra, epic planetarium shows, customised Dutch street organs, rock bands, video games, films, theatre shows, international orchestras, and anything beyond and in between. His music tends to inhabit one of two worlds. It is either celebratory and bright, consciously in opposition to the world in which it was written, or manic, detailed, and violent in response to the poverty and politics of our time. Roche’s compositions have been broadcast, televised, written about, and performed internationally to millions of people. He is the recipient of over 30 academic and professional awards.
Thank you to the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Yoichi Sugiyama, Jun Sawahashi, and Thomas Adès for organising such a powerful, safe, and committed set of rehearsals and performances. The level of dedication and professionalism that went in to ensuring that this award happened at all was genuinely inspiring. I would also like to congratulate Franciso Domínguez, Carmen Ho, and Xinyang Wang on their incredible pieces and prizes. It was elevating and inspiring to engage with such excellent composers. Hopefully we will meet one day in the future.
For me, the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award has an unique openness, spirit of generosity, and international scope. Regarding orchestral music, it is virtually impossible for a young composer to find an opportunity that provides them with hours of face-to-face time, the chance to write something really substantial, the opportunity for immediate and ongoing feedback, and a truly world-class performance. I never thought Six Prayers would be performed fully, but - thanks to the committed ambitiousness of everyone involved in the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award - I have finally been able to hear it. I hope it bring its listeners some joy and happiness.
Bringing musicians from different background, cultures, and countries together – ensuring that there are no financial barriers – is a further reflection of the generosity fostered by this award. I feel that in the UK there is a lot of rhetoric about nationality and division. Participating in such an international and open award has made me very hopeful that this will not always be the case. As is evident from every single year of this contest, there is an enormous amount of talented music making happening across the world. The exchanges that come from bringing this together and encouraging its cultivation are life changing. I hope the legacy of this award extends far into the future.
Francisco Domínguez (Spain)
POÈMES DE MIDI
Born in Alcolea de Calatrava, Spain in 1993. He studied composition with Gabriel Erkoreka at Musikene, where he finished his Bachelor degree with an honorific mention. Afterwards he continued his studies with Beat Furrer and Klaus Lang at the Kunstuniversität Graz. He also had classes and masterclasses with Helmut Lachenmann, Ramon Lazkano, Héctor Parra, and Rebecca Saunders, among others. He has been awarded numerous prestigious international prizes, and in 2016 he participated in the Academy of the Foundation Peter Eötvös, where he received classes from Peter Eötvös and Toshio Hosokawa. In the same year he was selected by Peter Eötvös to participate in the Gargonza Arts Artistic Residence.
I am so glad and honoured to have been selected for the final of the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2020 and to have received this third award. For me, it has meant a growth on an artistic and personal level, and a great encouragement, especially in these difficult times we are living. First of all, I would like to thank the Tokyo Opera City Cultural Foundation; the jury, Thomas Adès; the producer, Mr Sawahashi; the conductor, Mr Sugiyama; and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra for their tremendous efforts to make this competition a reality.
Without a doubt, the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award is one of the most relevant competitions of its kind on an international level. But it is much more than just a competition, it is also an amazing vehicle for culture, for that culture that makes us grow at all levels and for which many of us fight every day. This fact, already remarkable, has acquired an invaluable added value this year because despite the endless challenges that have arisen, the Foundation has fought to make the competition a success. Keeping this attitude of respect and veneration for music represents a beacon of hope in this world that is sometimes so desperate, and it means that there still are some bastions where quality art is firmly supported, and that encourages me to keep fighting as well.
Finally, I would like to thank my teachers Gabriel Erkoreka, Beat Furrer and Klaus Lang for having guided me through this beautiful and sometimes narrow path of composition; my parents for allowing me to study music, despite not understanding this profession very well; and of course, my wife, for her unconditional support day after day. Without all of them, I would not be here, nor would I be who I am.
Carmen Ho (UK/Hong Kong)
Saṃsāra for large orchestra
Born in Hong Kong, China in 1990. She is a composer of orchestral, instrumental and choral music. She was the Winner of a Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize in 2018. She has worked with musicians such as BBC Singers, Bristol Ensemble, Bristol University Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble 360, Ensemble Variances, Kokoro ensemble and Ensemble Musikfabrik. She has participated in the Summer School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (2016), Kyiv Contemporary Music Days (2016), Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Composers' Day (2017 & 2019), Bristol New Music (2018) and Takefu International Composition Workshop (2019). She studied for her BA at Hull University and she has completed an MA and a PhD in composition at Bristol University, under the supervision of Professor John Pickard. Her new orchestral work will be workshopped and performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra as part of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Composers’ Scheme 2019/20.
First of all, I would like to thank Tokyo Opera City Cultural Foundation for giving young composers this amazing opportunity.
A huge thank you to the judge, Thomas Adès. I feel honoured and privileged to have been selected for the final in this prestigious competition. It was an unforgettable experience to have my piece performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, under the magnificent direction of Maestro Yoichi Sugiyama. I could not have wished for a more brilliant and inspired performance.
My warmest thanks to producer Mr. Jun Sawahashi, for his hard work to make sure the competition goes smoothly.
Special thanks to NHK CosmoMedia Europe for facilitating a smooth remote rehearsal process and for delivering a successful livestreamed concert in these challenging times.
Last but not least, I would like to thank Professor John Pickard. I could not have written an award-winning piece without his guidance, encouragement, practical insight and musical inspiration.
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