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Start Projekte Chorleiter-Treffen Stuttgart 2016 Bachwoche Stuttgart 2016: Workshop mit dem Komponisten Ko Matsushita
Bachwoche Stuttgart 2016: Workshop mit dem Komponisten Ko Matsushita Drucken E-Mail

10 Fragen an… Ko Matsushita

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1. Mr Matsushita, you are well known as a composer of a wide range of choral music. How did you get involved in vocal music?

I have started piano lessons even before elementary school, however I did not go on to a music school but to a normal high-school. This was because when I was in the 2nd grade of junior high-school, I was told from my piano teacher that “You do not have any gift, so give up music”.

In the normal high-school where I didn’t have any hope for music, I met chorus. This has had the right conditions to develop my ability.

Not alike the piano, which requires to continuously confront oneself, chorus can make harmony with many colleagues. The fact that “I’m not alone” led me to the path of music again. In chorus, it was possible to make a deep and beautiful resonance of harmony which the piano cannot express, this captivated me. Later on, I learned that this resonance is called the pure temperament.

I would like to thank the Lord that I can be placing myself in this sound of just intonation (pure temperament).

2. The focus of your main work might be sacred music. What causes this emphasis? Are profane topics less interesting for you?

My family is traditionally in the Sōtō school, a major sect of Buddhism. You know that the majority of the Japanese is a Buddhist. I, while born in that family, have met chorus, and then met Masses and Motets. Realised the presence of the Lord, and that we are cradled in the love of Maria. And finally, in 2007, have been baptized along with my wife and became a Christian.

Chorus is music of prayer. I will go on writing music of devotion. As written in the words of psalm 118.

However, this does not mean that I am not interested in secular themes, rather I have a great interest there. My works could be categorized in five themes, and I write music following these themes.

- Sacred Music (Masses, Motets etc.)

- Traditional Motifs (Creations and arrangements based on Traditional Songs and Children’s Songs etc.)

- Secular Artistic Pieces

- Etudes to improve the ability of choir members and conductors

- Entertaining arrangements of Jazz and Pops. Joyous songs.

Each theme is very important to me. All my works in Latin are Sacred ones, however my works in Japanese are mostly of the 2nd or 3rd theme.

3. You use to compose in different languages. Does the onomatopoetic sound of these languages inspire you or is your focus on cultural tradition?

Language and words are not just a ‘sound’, it has meanings. In Japan, we have a word called “Kotodama”, and we believe that words possess a spirit. I am trying to create music that can amplify senses and feelings such as various emotions, religious devotions and prayer for peace, to extend to others, and which everyone listening there can empathize.

4. In which kind did you feel the influence of your international places of residence on your composing style?

Definitely there is an influence. I have studied the composition techniques of the Hungarian Composer Béla Bartók, this is projected on many of my compositions for Children and Female Chorus based on Japanese Children’s Songs. Also, as I like the beautiful widening of harmony which is especially achieved by the tonal harmony progression of chorus, I never have denied the European classical technique. Furthermore, I have written various pieces such as works incorporating Asian traditional musical components or works based on European traditional music. These could not be made just by understanding the theory of the musical structure. It is certain that the international experience leads to inspiration.

5. Which vocal challenges have choirs to fit singing your compositions?

When performing works based on the structure of Japanese traditional music, it is required to work with interest and try to understand the special vocal expression and the intonation of Japanese traditional music. The European Diatonic order does not fit the Japanese melody structure. Also, when performing Japanese music, the Harmonical fusion, or rather, Monophonic/Heterophonic expression is required. This is the same situation with, for example, when Japanese are performing the Viennese Waltz we need to have interest, knowledge, experience and understanding.

When performing pieces with Japanese lyrics, I would like choirs to mind the accent structure of Japanese, the distinct grammatical structure and the rhythm, and try for a vocal expression that can beautifully express Japanese.

For my works using Latin and European languages, I don’t have anything to mention for you all that live in Germany. With a voice filled with harmonic overtone and always keeping the harmony in mind, please make beautiful music.

6. Are there any special needs of conducting knowledges to perform your compositions adequately?

Of course, however this is not limited to my work but could be spread to any music.

A conductor should be standing in his or her position with a real comprehension of basic choral conducting, such as making an accurate expression without any unnecessary movement and splitting the role of the right and left hand.

For works in Japanese, there is the structure of Japanese, ways to beautifully express consonants and vowels, and conducting techniques that brings out these aspects. If there is anyone who is interested upon this, I am happy to make time someday to deeply train this.

7. A majority of your compositions have been published at Carus. Are there any other publishers editing your work?

In Japan, my works are published from Kawai, Ongaku-no-tomo, PanaMusica.

Outside of Japan, other than Carus, my works are published from Sulasol (Finland), Annie Bank (the Netherlands), Porfiri&Horváth (Germany), Santa Barbara Music Publishing (USA), etc.

8. What contents do you plan to teach to the workshop participants at Chorleiter-Treffen Bachwoche Stuttgart?

I will use some of my works and have them performed by a model choir. I would like the participants to know the method of performance. If participants want to do it, I can have a workshop for conducting technique of my piece. Also, I will explain the Japanese sound structure, and lecture upon how I am reflecting this structure in chorus. Furthermore, I will introduce not only my mixed chorus but also the female chorus repertoire by live performance of my choir.

9. Most of the participants of the workshop have their own ensembles to work with and a certain amount of practical experience – how can the participants implement your suggestions in their practical work?

Firstly, I strongly hope that the participants could explore new repertoire by my workshop. Also, I would like them to enjoy the essence or the scent of a different culture from the European one, which subliminally lies in the works of a Japanese from the Far east.

Also, I would be delighted if this extraordinary experience could be shared with the members of your choirs.

The beauty of music is that we can share the happiness and emotion, discovery and surprise, beyond languages, regions, and status.

10. What do you expect from the participants of the workshop?

From my music, I want the participants not to pick up just the superficial elements of music, but to see what the composer wants to express from that piece, and to collect the way of his life, like where he has been born, how he lead his life, and as a result what sort of policy he now lives with.

On the 71st year after the war, if you could see and listen to the figure of a generation that doesn’t directly know the war but is striving to adhere to pacifism by using composition, and work together in the future, this would be the hope of the composer.

Over borders, over closed minds and immobile bodies, every single weapon to be abandoned and the prayer for peace to spread around the world, this is what the composer is hoping for.

Ko Matsushita leitet im Rahmen der Bachwoche Stuttgart einen Workshop beim Chorleiter-Treffen.




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