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Robert Aitken, artistic director

TOSHIO HOSOKAWA: A PORTRAIT

Friday January 25, 2019 @ 8 Introduction @ 7:15
New Music Concerts Ensemble, Robert Aitken direction
Walter Hall, University of Toronto at 80 Queen's Park [MAP]
Tickets $35 regular | $25 seniors and arts workers | $10 students
For Reservations Call 416.961.9594

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The esteemed Japanese composer curates a concert of large chamber works,
including music by his mentor, the late Klaus Huber, and his star protégé Misato Mochizuki.
Presented in conjunction with the University of Toronto New Music Festival.

Programme:

Toshio Hosokawa (Japan b.1955)
Im Frülingsgarten (2002)
Hika Elegy (2015)
excerpt from Two Japanese Folksongs (2008) and Gesine (2009)
Für Walter – Arc Song II (2010)
Misato Mochizuki (Japan b.1969) Chimera (2000)
Klaus Huber (Switzerland 1924-2017) Alveare vernat (1965)
Toshio Hosokawa:
Hika Elegy (2015)

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PROGRAMME NOTES

Toshio Hosokawa was born on 23 October, 1955 in Hiroshima, Japan. He travelled to Germany in 1976 to study composition with Isang Yun at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin and with Klaus Huber at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg. In 1980 Hosokawa participated for the first time in the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt. Since then, he has been working mainly in Europe and Japan, gaining a worldwide reputation as one of the leading Japanese composers and receiving commissions from the leading orchestras, music festivals and opera theatres in Europe and America.

His second opera 
Hanjo was commissioned by the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in 2004. His orchestral work Circulating Ocean was commissioned by the Salzburg Festival in 2005 and was premièred by the Wiener Philharmoniker. Woven Dreams, an award-winning work of the 5th Roche commissions in 2008 was premièred by the Cleveland Orchestra and was also performed at the Lucerne Festival in 2010, winning the British Composer Awards of 2013. His third opera, Matsukaze, was commissioned by La Monnaie in 2011. Other significant works include The Raven, commissioned by United Instruments of Lucilin; Moment of Blossoming, a concerto for horn co-commissioned by Berliner Philharmoniker, the Barbican Centre London and Concertgebouw Amsterdam. These works and many others were premièred under the baton of the world’s leading conductors, including Kazushi Ono, Jun Märkl, Kent Nagano, Sir Simon Rattle, Robin Ticciati and Franz Welser-Möst.

Several works by Hosokawa were performed during the Salzburg Festival in 2013, including two premières: 
Klage for soprano and orchestra and Ancient Voices – In memory of Wolfgang Schulz for wind quintet. His Concerto for trumpet and orchestra Im Nebel was premièred at the 2013 Suntory Foundation for Arts Summer Festival and won him his third Otaka Prize in 2014. In his recent works Hosokawa is especially engaged in depicting the relationships between nature and humanity, composing works that are meant to be a prayer and a requiem. His concertos Aeolus and Fluss and the vocal work Drei Engel Lieder were premièred in Europe in 2014. The following year Nach dem Sturm for two sopranos and orchestra was commissioned for the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra’s 50th anniversary and was premièred by Kazushi Ono and the orchestra in November in Tokyo. 

In January 2016, his opera 
Stilles Meer with text and staging by Oriza Hirata depicting Fukushima several years after The Great East Japan Earthquake was premièred in Hamburg. In December 2017 Futari Shizuka (text by Oriza Hirata) was commissioned by Ensemble Intercontemporain and was premièred under the baton of Matthias Pintscher at Cité de la Musique, Paris. In July 2018, the latest opera Erdbeben Träume (text by Marcel Beyer after Heinrich von Kleist’s “Das Erdbeben in Chili”) was premièred by Oper Stuttgart, directed by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito and conducted by Sylvain Cambreling. It greatly attracted attention of many people, and was highly praised by the audience.

In 2001, Hosokawa became a member of Akademie der Künste, Berlin. He was Composer-in-Residence with Tokyo Symphony Orchestra from 1998-2007, with Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin in 2006/2007, with WDR Rundfunkchor Köln in 2006-2008 and with Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest in the 2013/2014 season. In 2006/2007 and again in 2008/2009 he was invited as one of the Fellows by Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. In 2015, he was Composer-in-Residence with Mozartfest Würzburg. In 2012, he was elected a member of Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste, München, and received the Medal of Honour with Purple Ribbon from the Goverment of Japan in Autumn. In 2018, he received The Japan Foundation Awards. Currently, he serves as Music Director for the Takefu International Music Festival, and is a guest professor at Tokyo College of Music and at Elisabeth University of Music (Hiroshima).


Hosokawa: Hika Elegy (2015)
for solo violin and string orchestra

I had composed an elegy for solo violin for the funeral of my close friend’s wife who died at a young age from cancer. This violin concerto, Hika, is based on this elegy, and it has been re-composed for violin and string orchestra. The solo violin is a person who sings a song of sadness, and the string orchestra represents nature and the cosmos surrounding that person. The violin converses and argues with the cosmos, but ultimately melts into its resonance. Through singing about sadness, people find salvation. — Toshio Hosokawa


Hosokawa: Im Frühlingsgarten (2002)
Co-commission for the Lucerne Festival by the
Wiener Ring-Ensemble and the KAJIMOTO ensemble.

At first, I felt the great difficulty to create something that would fit well with this concert program consisting heavily of elegant and festive music such as the waltz and polka, however, using the word “festive” as the key, I was able to compose Im Frülingsgarten while I imagined the elegant and traditional Bugaku (Gagaku) music often played at festive occasions and ceremonies in Japan. 

A rhythmic feel completely different than that of Viennese waltz, and smooth lines of the Mai (traditional Japanese dance) are performed by Western instruments, while the Uguisu birds (Japanese bush warblers) are imitated mainly by the flute and the clarinet in the background. The music gradually shifts into harmony, and the music comes to an end with a quiet resonance of a major triad. — Toshio Hosokawa

Hosokawa: from Two Japanese Folksongs and Gesine
for solo harp

The three pieces contained in this collection were written for renowned competitions: the Concours de harpe Lily Laskine 2008 (Two Folksongs) and the ARD Competition 2009 (Gesine). But it is not the technical aspect that is to the fore. The composer rather opens the listener's eyes to the soft Impressionist colour of Japanese poetry: a cherry blossom celebration, a lullaby — and again and again an approach to the sound of the koto, the traditional Japanese zither.

Hosokawa: Für Walter – Arc Song II (2010)
for soprano saxophone, piano and percussion

This work was composed as a present for my friend, Walter Fink’s 80th birthday in 2010. It is based on the original work
Arc-Song (1999) and was transcribed for soprano saxophone, piano and percussion. Its premiere was given at Walter Fink’s 80th Anniversary Concert at Rheingau Musik Festival in Germany, performed by Trio Accanto on August 16th, 2010.

Arc-Song is a work which tries to musicalise the performer’s attempt to draw an arch with sound while aiming for something eternal. The shape of sound has a calligraphy-brush-like form. It is not only in the shapes of the sound drawn, but in the silences, blank spaces and moments from which they are created wherein the deep meaning lies. — Toshio Hosokawa


Born in Bern, Switzerland
Klaus Huber (30 November 1924 – 2 October 2017) first studied violin and music pedagogy from 1947 to 1949 at the Zurich Conservatory with Stefi Geyer. From 1949 to 1955, he was a violin teacher at the Zurich Conservatory. At the same time he studied composition with Willy Burkhard. He continued his composition studies with Boris Blacher in Berlin. As a composer, Huber began with serial music influenced by Anton Webern. His international breakthrough came in 1959 with the world premiere of his chamber cantata Des Engels Anredung an die Seele at the Weltmusiktage (World Music Days) of the Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik in Rome. Unusually for the time, he used consonant intervals within a strictly serial context.

He became one of the leading figures of his generation in Europe, compared to Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. He received the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 2009, among other awards. He composed extensively for chamber ensembles, choirs, soloists and orchestra. His works for the theatre look for scenes beyond opera and oratorio. Huber was a socially and politically conscious composer and his music often conveys a humanistic message. He set texts by biblical prophets and medieval mystics such as Hildegard of Bingen. He was also inspired by texts of Augustine, Andreas Gryphius, Ernst Bloch, Heinrich Böll, and of Latin American liberation theologians. From the 1980s, Huber studied Arabic music and poetry and included their influences in his works.

Huber taught music history at the Lucerne Conservatory from 1960 to 1963 and composition at the City of Basel Music Academy (1961–72) and at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg (1973–90). He was also appointed director of the composition seminars at the Gaudeamus Foundation in Bilthoven, Netherlands, in 1966, 1968, and 1972. Additionally, he held international visiting professorships and composition classes in (among others) Paris, London, Geneva, Milan, Lyon, Montreal, Sarajevo, and Tatui (Brazil). Several of his students became internationally recognized composers, including Brian Ferneyhough, Younghi Pagh-Paan (later his wife), Toshio Hosokawa, Wolfgang Rihm, and Kaija Saariaho. He was a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin from 1986. His manuscripts are kept by the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel.

Huber: Alveare vernat (1965)
for solo flute and twelve solo strings

The microstructures of
Alveare vernat are, as in my previous compositions Moteti-Cantiones and Soliloquia, subject to wide-ranging, often transforming serial techniques, partially augmented by the inclusion of microtonal intervals. By contrast, the macrostructure of the work tends in the direction of those possibilities which allow a greater space for irrationality.

In doing so, I started with a minutely elaborated time sketch that uses different proportions, progressions and their overlaps to articulate the total duration in a variety of ways. I understand this process of bifurcation, which in this case becomes audible in Alveare vernat, as a consequence of this type of shaping and not as its goal. On the contrary, my intention was to create from a relatively fixed material a music that evokes the impression of becoming and passing away.

I would like to give the enigmatic title, "Es lenzt im Bienenstock“ (It springs from the beehive) to the work in two senses: The arts seem today to be affected by restlessness, impatience, feverish excitement. There remains the hope that those signs will bring us "a new spring".

The work belongs to the memory of the great believer of Monte Alverna [An isolated mountain in the centre of the Tuscan Appenines, it is revered as the site of St. Francis of Assisi’s ecstatic vision of a fiery seraph]. Therefore, the title lets the name of that mountain sound softly. — Klaus Huber


Born in 1969 in Tokyo,
Misato Mochizuki is amongst those composers who are equally active in Europe and in Japan. After receiving a Masters degree in composition at the National University of Fine Arts and Music in Tokyo, she was awarded first prize for composition at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris in 1995, and then integrated the "Composition and Computer Music" program at IRCAM (1996-1997).

In her very own combination of Occidental tradition and the Asiatic sense of breathing, Misato Mochizuki's style of writing developed magical rhythms and unusual sounds of great formal and stylistic freedom. Her catalogue of works (published by Breitkopf & Härtel) consists of about 40 works today, including 15 symphonic compositions and 12 pieces for ensemble. Her works, which have been performed at international festivals such as the Salzburg Festival, the Biennale di Venezia, and the Folle Journée in Tokyo, have received numerous awards; the audience prize at the Festival Ars Musica in Brussels for Chimera in 2002, the Japanese State Prize for the greatest young artistic talent in 2003, the Otaka Prize for the best symphonic world premiere in Japan in 2005 (for
Cloud nine), the Grand Prize of the Tribune internationale des compositeurs in 2008 (for L'heure bleue), and the Heidelberg Women Artists' Prize in 2010. Her most outstanding productions include the orchestral portrait concert at Suntory Hall in Tokyo (2007), the cinema concert at the Louvre with the music to the silent film Le fil blanc de la cascade by Kenji MIzoguchi (2007) and the portrait concerts at the Festival d'Automne in Paris (2010) and at the Miller Theatre in New York (Columbia University, 2017).

Between 2011 and 2013 Misato Mochizuki was composer-in-residence at the Festival international de musique de Besançon. Since 2007 she has been professor of artistic disciplines at the Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, and has been invited to give composition courses in Darmstadt, in Royaumont, in Takefu, at the Amsterdam Conservatory, and elsewhere. Within the framework of her activities, she continually reflects on the role of the composer in today's society and on the necessity to open oneself to it. In addition, Misato Mochizuki writes about music and culture in her own column every three months for the renowned Yomiuri Shimbun, the most widely read daily newspaper in Japan.


Mochizuki: Chimera (2000) for 11 players
WDR Commission. Première: May 7, 2000, Wittener Tage für neue
Kammermusik 2000, Ictus ensemble conducted by Georges-Elie Octors.

In Greek mythology, the chimera is represented as a mythical creature having the head of a lion, the body of a sheep and the tail of a snake. In the natural sciences, a chimera is an organism produced by genetic manipulation in the laboratory, which unites the traits of two or more species. As long as the immune system has not been established, no rejection occurs and the chimera survives. This defence system sends chemical messsages to the cells, which report the presence of foreign bodies. Now, the cells have different ways of reacting to this information: they can remain passive, struggle to reproduce the dominant response form of their neighbouring cells, choose to die, etc. While these numerous messages are being sent, the original message is modified and either triggers the production of antibodies, and in this way the intruders are brought under control, or sickness and the death of the organism follows. These responses are indiscernible at the level of the individual cell, yet at a higher level one can observe a feedback loop between the immune system and its environment, according to which the surroundings stimulate cell responses, which in turn influence the development of the environment. These are the elements that inspired the developmental characteristics of this piece: The introduction of a foreign body, the propagation of information, the production of antibodies, and the causation of conflict.

Chimera also owes much to techno music. The pulsating rhythm is continuous here, either expressly or in the background, and all the other elements are associated with it. Techno is usually played at a high volume and therefore the pulsation is perceived by the body and directly influences the cardiac rhythm. In this music, another reference to the organic lies in the repetition of short figures and in the work with electronic filters: this reminds me of the transfer and modification of chemical information between cells. I have tried to use these acoustic manipulations and to transpose them to traditional instruments. Their specific limitations compel to find new forms of playing and hitherto unknown sound structures. So what one finds here, for instance, is a playful use of the harmonies of the piano, which is the acoustic equivalent of filtration. This way, Chimera is nearly a piece of techno acoustics.

My musical chimera has a life span of 10 minutes. Various genetic materials are introduced into the “base embryo” (a rapid bongo rhythm here) and entail unforeseeable developments. The elements begin to conflict with each other or must change their own metabolism, which in turn influences the organism as a whole. The cells reproduce and change the message, which is decisive for the survival of this unnatural creature. — Misato Mochizuki