Toru Takemitsu Festival

April 25th and 26th


Photo by Tetsuya Fukui

Confronting Silence:
The Music of Toru Takemitsu

Shumei Hall & Shumei Hall Gallery (MAP)

Pacific Asia Museum

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary Season of the Shumei Arts Council

In collaboration with Southwest Chamber Music & Pacific Asia Museum

Southwest Chamber Music (Photo by Corina Gamma)

This event is supported by:


Margaret Smilow, Peter Grilli, Dr. Akiko Agishi

Alan Imai, Stephen Cohn, Dr. Morgan Pitelka

USC East Asian Studies Center, Claremont Graduate University

Bando Hidesomi Nihon Buyo Class, Bando Mitsuhiro-Kai,

Armory Center for the Arts, California College of Music,

Japanese American National Museum, Midnight Winds,

Pasadena Museum of History, Pasadena Symphony Association,

Saturday Conservatory of Music, Thomas Metzler Violin Shop,

Junior Chamber Music, Shumei America, Shumei International Institute,

George Bedell, Tokiko Jinta, Sumio Koike, Yukiko Matsuyama,

Koji Nakamura, Marie Forsyth, Ikuhiro Yamamoto,

Norio Shima, David Mendelsohn


Free Admission



Toru Takemitsu (1930—1996) is considered one of the major composers of the later 20th Century. His talents and interests were broad. He drew inspiration from a range of sources that included jazz, popular song, the European avant-garde, and traditional Japanese music. He wrote concert music and music for films, among them a number of cinematic classics. He was a figure of universal sensibilities, and the first Japanese composer to find international acclaim. He also was a popular celebrity in Japan and a well-received writer on aesthetics and musical theory in both Japanese and English. He was an advocate for world peace, and even managed to write a detective novel.

Nature, Spirituality, and ‘Ma.’

The concept of ‘Ma’ was incorporated in Takemitsu’s mature works, those he composed while rediscovering the music of his native Japan. Ma is sometimes defined as an open space, a breath, a pause, or a silence defined by sound and found between sounds.

There is a spatial aspect to the idea of Ma. It can be experienced in the environs of a formal Japanese garden. Takemitsu often compared composing and listening to music to walking through a garden. He thought of instruments as similar to a garden’s various rocks, plants, and artifacts that together form a harmonious whole where no one part overpowers the rest. There is a spiritual element to Ma as well. The vacant space defined by these elements is rich ground for meditation, and silence is the home of spirituality. Ma connects us to both the universe of the five senses and the unseen world beyond them. For Takemitsu, Ma permeated the natural world, and nature was his great teacher. Ma touches the heart of nature, a sense of nature almost lost to modern society. As a result, many of Takemitsu’s pieces evoke themes of the natural world.

The concerts will present Ma and nature as found in Takemitsu’s work. Takemitsu believed that spirits exist everywhere in nature, and each of his works was an expression of his love of nature.

The symposium "Takemitsu: Nature and the Concept of Ma" will explore the wonder that Ma in nature inspires, and how this awe is the source of art, spirituality, and science. If viable, the Shumei Arts Council would like the symposium to touch on how this sense of Ma and nature can inspire environmental concerns and a commitment to a peaceful world.


Another Definition of 'Ma'

The Japanese word 'Ma' may be defined as the natural distance between two or more events existing in a continuity. In contrast to the West'sf perception of time and space as separate entities, in Japanese thinking both time and space are measured in terms of intervals. Silence and the prolongation of sound is the same thing in terms of space. The only difference is that there is either the presence or absence of sound. More important is whether the space is elivingf or not.


Through the Takemitsu festival, the Shumei Arts Council hopes to foster an understanding and appreciation of the role of art and spirituality in the health of our natural world, and the well-being and happiness of all people.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

1pm - 3pm


Dialogue & Demonstration of "Ma", a concept behind Japanese culture and the music of Toru Takemitsu

Topic of discussion: Takemitsu: Nature and the concept of "Ma"


Peter Grilli: president of Japan Society of Boston, a recipient of the prestigious Third Class Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese government and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Japan-America Societies

Alex Kerr: writer, artist, public speaker, founder and director of the Origin Program of traditional arts in Japan and Thailand Website

Jeff von der Schmidt: founding artistic director and conductor of Southwest Chamber Music, a two-time Grammy Award-winning ensemble

Sharon Franquemont, former professor of intuition at JFK University, now working with the Life Science Foundation in Excelsior, Minnesota on projects related to intuition, health care, and science.


Facilitator: Martin Perlich, renowned author, writer, producer and distinguished broadcaster Website

Musician: Junko Ueno Garrett, pianist and faculty member at Occidental College Website


4pm - 5pm

Ma: Sound and Silence

Assorted Medium Event

Experience the aesthetics of ema,f captured in sound and silence, form and space, and movement and rest. The Shumei Arts Council of America presents a concert of sights and sounds that embody the spirit of the great 20th Century composer, Toru Takemitsu.

Featured is music by Takemitsu and Haruno Kira, a niece of Toru Takemitsu as well as the world premier of gSeihitsu?Thoughts for Takemitsu,h by taiko master Koji Nakamura. The concert blends photography, Japanese traditional dance, the art of tea, calligraphy, and music, both scored and improvisational, into a discourse on one of the guiding principles of Japanese art and the art of Toru Takemitsu: ema.f
Among the artists are Junko Ueno Garrett on piano, Koji Nakamura on drums and flute, Yukiko Matsuyama on koto, Amy Tatum, flute, composer Haruno Kira, dancer Hidesomi Bando from Bando School, calligrapher and author Alex Kerr, and photographer Sumio Koike. Tea ceremony performed by Masanori Tamaki from Mushanokoji-senke School. Production by Kouji Sh'tara, a nephew of Toru takemitsu. Directed by Jane Imai.



Sunday, April 26, 2009

1pm - 2:30pm



Introduction by the film's co-producer, Peter Grilli, and anecdotes by the composer's nephew, Kouji Sh'tara.

An in-depth look into Toru Takemitsu's works for the cinema, this documentary containsinterviews with the composer and noted film directors who worked with Takemitsu thoughout his forty year career in film. Also included are scenes from films in which the composer scored both the music and sound.

This program is supported by the film's co-producer, Margaret Smilow, who kindly waived the copyright fee.

3pm - 4:30pm


Southwest Chamber Music (Photo by Corina Gamma)

All music composed by Toru Takemitsu

Two-time Grammy Award-winning Southwest Chamber Music will present fascinating works from Takemitsufs vast Waterscape series. Audiences will be exposed to the concept of 'Ma' through the brilliantly colorful works such as Bryce (inspired by our national Park in Utah) and Waterways. The works showcase the exotic colorings of 2 harps, 2 vibraphones, and various Japanese percussion instruments.



Please join us for delicious light refreshments, in addition to mingling with other festival participants and enjoying our wonderful courtyard displays.

Parking for the Event: Since the festival program will be adhering to a tight time schedule, we strongly suggest you arrive at least 15 minutes early before the event. Parking at Shumei Hall is limited, but you will be able to park for Free at the Evolution Fitness parking lot at the corner of Colorado Blvd and Sierra Madre Blvd. or the Bank of the West parking lot at the corner of Altadena Drive and Colorado Blvd. There is also free street parking where available.

Press release: English {


Related Events

"The Literati of Japan" (with a focus on calligraphy)
A Special Lecture by Alex Kerr

Friday, April 24, 2009 at 7pm

Pacific Asia Museum

46 N. Los Robles Ave. Pasadena, CA 91101

(626) 449-2742


Calligraphy Exhibition by Alex Kerr at Shumei Hall Gallery (MAP)

Circle & Love

March 13, 2009 - May 10, 2009

9:30am - 6:00pm (Mon. - Sat.)

Sunday, appointment only by calling 626 584 8841


Other Information about the Shumei Arts Council of America