自一九八九 年以來, 我多次被邀請參加了各種比賽。大多情況下，我是一個外國評委，但我很高興看到年輕的音樂人們變得非常感性。當我二○○一年第一次參加「龍音杯」中國民族器樂（古箏）國際比賽，我為獲勝者袁莎感到震驚。在比賽後，她向我贈送了有她演奏《華麗》的激光唱片作為禮物。在聽過她的表演後，我感到那感覺無法和十二年前參加「ART杯」的感覺比較。她演奏我的作品時是如此精彩但又細心且感性。二○○四年末當我與龍音公司輾轉在東京、香港和上海的「中–日21古箏交流音樂會」，在日本東京的津田大廈中，日本聽眾驚奇得發現演奏《華麗》的毛丫比日本的獨奏演員表現得更好。
My impression on Chinese music along a Japanese composer’s walking road
It is significant project to issue big CD anthology of top class Chinese music by the traditional instruments. I am very looking forward to listening to them all.
In 20th century, people thought that only European classic and American pops were the world standard. They didn’t think Asian ethnic music and instruments were the same level as Western classic and pops. As I didn’t agree with these opinions, I needed to make every effort to inform ignorant people about the greatness of our instruments and music. Although I am Japanese, I have to trace along my walking road to explain Chinese superiority on music.
After the Second World War when I was only fifteen, I truly realized I have to devote my main life to the atonement for Asian victims. Then I started leaning music, and I have been keeping my interests so naturally on Asian music elements for more than sixty years. However, when I was a composition student, imported Chinese music was quite limited. Also music from Southern Asia was limited. But I had more interest in musical elements from Southern Asia than Chinese one. It was a pity thing that people couldn’t listen to proper recordings caused by supplier’s problem.
Furthermore, China entered so called the Cultural Revolution. At first I paid much attention to the revolution but the music which I could listen to in Japan was so boring and propaganda pieces borrowed from Western tradition. Under these conditions we couldn’t realize that Chinese traditional music is so wide and deep.
My first visit to China was in 1983 as the concert tour of Nihon Ongaku shudan (Pro Musica Nipponia) guided by Mr. Wang Yang Qiao who was studying in Japan and a close friend of mine. That time, my eight pieces by mainly Japanese traditional instruments were performed three times in Beijing and two times in Shanghai. More than hundred of young students including Mr. Tang Dun and talented young composers gathered to our concerts. At a symposium I remember that I had a serious talk about the future of our music and how to handle our tradition as an Asian composer. My several pieces were played with excellent oboe and cello soloists who were belonged to the Central Orchestra. They had poor instruments but their techniques were so wonderful. Also according to my sincere desire, the Central Chinese Orchestra had cooperation with Nihon Ongaku Shudan. I specially composed Rainbow Overture(彩虹序曲) for this collaboration and 66 players from two orchestras had wonderful co-performance at the Red Pagoda Hall on the 5th of March,1983. I believe it was the first cooperation between two different traditional orchestras of different countries in the history.
At that time I realized that China had already achieved quite many evolutions to reform their instruments. For example, in Japan we changed koto’s string number from 13 to 21 in 1969. It was the most successful evolution in Japan, but Chinese musicians did it in early 60s. About pipa, Japanese biwa has never been changed its shape and fret number since Tang Dynasty when we imported instrument itself from China. However Chinese pipa had already 30 frets and abandoned large plectrum. Japanese wind instruments are keeping original shape and performing style, but Chinese wind instruments which have the same origin became almost different instruments in their function. All matters were significant as the progress of traditional instruments.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to change my thought as the quality of music. I thought Chinese instruments achieved much evolution as the quantity. However at the same time they lost many important traditions instead of modernization. I went to Beijing in 1989 as a member of the Artistic Committee and a judge for “ART Cup International Chinese Instruments Competition”. I listened to my koto solo piece Hanayagi (in Chinese 華麗) which was performed brilliantly by two students but in unthinkably fast tempo. I was afraid about which direction Chinese might toward. At the same occasion, I saw many participants imitated our new technique on koto. But fortunately I had many talk about Chinese instruments with great readers in Chinese music world. I also felt personally that the pipa was the most successful traditional instrument in a process of transformation in China, and | thought that I would like to try composing for this instrument.
In 1993, several readers of Chinese, Korean and Japanese musicians including me combined each traditional orchestra and organized a new traditional music style. I named it the “Orchestra Asia” and not only composing five pieces: Folk Symphony Den-Den-Den, Loulan as a Dream, Pipa Concerto, Soul 2000, and Rainbow Overture (Orchestra Asia version) for them between 1994 and 2002, but also produced several concerts in Japan. During these ambitious projects I learned many things concerning traditional Chinese instruments from the colleagues of Central Chinese Orchestra. Especially, I understood Chinese high ability to play on both horizontal and vertical wind instruments. For example, tone color and precise fingering of dizi is quite impressionable than Japanese fue. And suena expresses just Chinese feelings compare with Western trumpet and other wind instruments. Our Japanese sho is keeping original shape since Tang Dynasty but Chinese sheng has been developed unthinkably new way. They became almost western organ without electricity. In case of ethnic orchestra, their presence could show Eastern identity.
By the tone color of erhu, we easily recognize China. This special tone color is one of miracles in ethnic instrumental world. I can only compare with Japanese shakuhachi even if which was brought from south China in medieval age. Concerning tone range, erhu wasn’t stopped its development. Furthermore, recent erhu soloists invented wonderful modern technique. After the 12 girls project, erhu became very popular in Japan because erhu is much easier than other Chinese ethnic instruments to learn. Maybe only one problem is low register Hugin. Now most of Chinese orchestras use cello and contrabass instead of developed Huqin. When China finds out the proper way of low and the lowest bowed string instruments, the form of their traditional orchestra will be finally completed.
It is similar to the Japanese example that many percussion instruments came from theatrical field. Gong, liu, cha and several kinds of drums are all interesting. I frequently borrowed xiao liu for my operas.
In these periods, many Chinese composers went to foreign countries and grew up as quite active musicians in the world. Of course young performers of traditional instruments did wide activities as well. Chinese identity in all aspects spread out in Western countries. I hope they are keeping their talents not only technically but musically.
In 1996, when Orchestra Asia premiered my Loulan as a Dream in Japan, I met Ms. Yang Jing who joined the orchestra first time as a member of Central Chinese Orchestra. Without any knowledge I watched her playing pipa, and suddenly I realized that she 1s the ideal musician who can walk with me to achieve Asian dream in the traditional instrumental world. She speaks English very well. So without any interpreter we could discuss our aim. She was also enthusiastic about learning to perform my music and composition from me. At that time, I was commissioned to compose an orchestral piece for the Art Program of Nagano Olympics. I decided without hesitation to compose Pipa concerto for her. She taught me many pipa techniques and showed me several pieces of hers which she had composed for solo pipa. For example, when I listened to Nine Jade Chains, I was utterly at a loss for words. Only a few years had passed since the end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and although I had brought the Pro Musica Nipponia to Beijing and Shanghai in the same year, I simply could not believe that a twenty-year old performer could compose such an original, non-imitative and smart piece.
After recognized her talent, we achieved many things during these ten years. I and Yang Jing composed many pieces for solo, chamber ensemble, concerto and operas including my eighth opera Ai-en 愛怨 which describes eternal love between a Japanese envoy to Tang and a waiting lady of the Empress. The opera commissioned by the Japan’s New National Theatre and world premiered in February 2006. Ai-en got huge success. Particularly the secret prpa piece Ai-en performed by Yang Jing was admired outstandingly from every angle. I believe she contributed very much to Chinese quality on music.
My travel finally reached founding “Hokuto International Music Festival” in 2006 which was to be held in every late summer at 1000 meter highland in central Japan to realize “Mecca of East-West Music Exchange”. For this festival, I am acting as the Artistic Director and Yang Jing is acting as the Music Director. As one of this year’s events she organized a concert entitled “China Music Tour” with erhu played by Chen Min and dasanxian played by Fei Jiangrong. As the ending piece, Yang Jing composed When do we see the bright Moon again? (poem by Su Shi). Not only she played pipa but even recited the poem in Chinese, but it was accepted from Japanese audience and got sudden standing ovation under the moon thirteen days old.
Since 1989, I was invited from different competitions several times. Most of the cases I was only one foreign judge. But I was so happy to realize young musicians became very sensible. When I attended the first “Dragons Music Cup” Chinese Musical Instruments (Guzheng) International Competition in 2001, I was so surprised by Yuan Sha, the winner’s musicality. After the competition she presented me a CD in which her Hanayagi (華麗) performance is included. My impression after listening to the piece could never been compared with the one of “ART Cup” 12 years ago. She played my piece brilliantly but carefully and sensibly. Later in 2004 when I organized “Japanese-Chinese 21 Koto (Guzheng) Exchange Concert” with ROI Productions Ltd touring Tokyo, Hongkong and Shanghai, Japanese audience surprised at that Mao Ya played Hanayagi rather better than Japanese soloists in Tsuda Hall in Tokyo.
Someone said that China 1s just like a world. In China many races are living. Since 4000 years ago Chinese culture has been so great and deep. There 1s no doubt of this CD anthology will success. I believe people will enjoy this music like Chinese food. However, I suppose that this richness resulted from frequent competitions between each instrument.
China became very strong and important on the earth. I seriously hope that China keeps both their identity and international movements on music.
To keep projects combining different culture need patience. We have tried them for long time. I hope distinguished Chinese musicians will do beyond our efforts as the leaders. This significant CD anthology must be a classic not only as Chinese ethnic music but also as Asian music.