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Hikari Kiyama

There was a time when Hikari studied at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (sonology and composition). “I like Andriessen’s music for acoustic and amplified instruments,” he says, speaking from Helsinki. His own music, too, is compelling and hyper-energetic; almost aggressive. Yet in person, he does not seem hotheaded. Yin and Yang would better describe it.

Takemitsu’s enthusiasm for composition was kindled by Family Tree, a piece for narrator and orchestra that he wrote in 1992, specifically for young people. Toshio Hosokawa’s Vertical Songs whetted his musical appetite. And the South Korean composers Isang Yun, Younghi Pagh-Paan, Sukhi Kang. “Kang taught me the power of religion in music,” he emphasizes. At first, he composed in the style of Takemitsu and Hosokawa. “We all did in the 1990s. At that time, Japan was still quite conservative. Then my teacher suggested I listen to Brian Ferneyhough at the Akiyoshidai Festival.” He was utterly bowled over because the music was so extreme. Ferneyhough’s New Complexity unleashed the beast in him. “I am now importing elements into my own music.” Asian traditions provide fertile soil. “I derive inspiration from the Vietnamese đàn bầu, the Japanese koto, the Chinese pipa. However, right now I’m under the spell of the kantele, the Finnish zither.” He is making good use of his time in Finland.

Photo © Anna van Kooij