Please enable JS

Japan Intl.


Japan Intl.

4 March 2021 / William Anderson / Compositions, composers

Akemi Naito Website

Akemi Naito’s Pilgrimage

The story of Akemi Naito’s pilgrimage to New York is bittersweet. She came and she saw the US deteriorate. Pilgramage was commissioned by Chamber Music America for Cygnus. It conjures Japan like Proust’s madeleine conjures Bergson’s Paris.


For me, composing is a profoundly poetic activity. However the world may change or technologies progress, this remains an unchanging foundation, one which is always my starting point. Sound has its own energies and my method is to weave them together. Sound breathes and shapes itself into a musical work. Form as an end result. I discover the true significance of a work in artistic expressions that reach the core of the universe in an instant. It is my hope to create music which is simple yet deep. To grasp one moment of certainty.

New York City, where I have lived since 1991, enables me to examine my own being. Here, the spirit of individual style fit me like a glove, and I felt I wanted to delve myself as deeply as I could. Yet, here, as a Japanese, it is necessary to nurture in myself a perspective, a structure which is different from the Western ideas of time. For me, time is malleable, and can be sublimated from a melodious moment into a timespace of infinite continuity.

In this city where various cultures intersect, one is made aware of one’s roots. But simultaneously, things that are pure and moving leap easily over barriers of language and ethnicity. I am convinced that the most beautiful moments in history are when something is communicated. That is why I continue speaking through music.

(November 1997, Akemi Naito / from CRI CD liner note)

David Loeb is a very special case. It is an amazing hybrid of Western Renaissance & Baroque aesthetics, Bartok harmony, and Asian musical idioms.

Although David Loeb began composing at the age of six, he destroyed everything he had written prior to beginning his studies at Mannes (not to mention some things written much later). Nevertheless the works written since then now number well over one thousand, and he continues to produce new compositions in diverse media frequently. Moving back and forth between residences in New York and Kyoto and often making shorter trips from both places actually increases his output rather than slowing it down. Changes of climate, cuisine, culture, language, art, and above all music seem to provide considerable stimulation for creativity.

This is a perfect example of Loeb’s East/West international style–
Mayumio Miyata, sho; Yukimi Kambe, viola da gamba

Allen Shawn set some poetry by Hagiwara Sakutaro for Cygnus, knowing that the poet played the mandolin–

Allen Shawn’s work as a composer and pianist comprises a large catalogue of orchestral and chamber music, chamber operas, songs, piano music, and music for ballet, theatre, and film; he is also celebrated for his writings on Arnold Schoenberg and Leonard Bernstein, as well as his compelling memoirs.