Concert Band Working on Piece by Japanese Composer
The ever adventuous Concert Band continues to expand its range with a complex, layered composition by Yasuhide Ito, Festal Scenes. According to the Wind Band Literature web site, Ito, who wrote the piece in 1986, says he “was inspired to write Festal Scenes after receiving a letter from a wandering philosophical friend in Shanghai, who said ‘- everything seems like Paradise blooming all together. Life is a festival, indeed.'”
The piece uses four Japanese folk songs from Aomori Prefecture, home of the famous Nebuta Festival, as its source material. It also calls for 2 Japanese percussion instruments that are used in the Nebuta Festival: the Tebiragane, a type of antique cymbal, and the Nebuta-daiko, alarge drum played with long bamboo sticks.
According to his biography on Wikipedia, Ito was born December 7, 1960 in Hamamatsu, Japan. As a child, Ito began to cultivate his interest in music by taking piano lessons. He continued to pursue a musical education and, by his third year of high school, had composed his first piece of music for band, titled On the March. TRN Music Publisher published this work in 1978.
After high school, Ito attended and graduated with a major in composition from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (Class of 1986). During his time at Tokyo National University, Ito began to gain national and international acclaim for his work through his entrance in and winning of several musical competitions. Ito’s awards include first prize at the Shizuoka Music Competition in 1980 for piano, third prize at the Japan Music Competition in 1982 for piano, an award at the Competition for Saxophone Music in 1987, and the Academy prize from the Band Masters Academic Society of Japan in 1994.
Yasuhide Ito has earned much praise for his compositional endeavors. In all, Ito is credited for more than 130 musical works. This collection of musical works includes pieces for wind ensemble, orchestra, instrumental chamber ensembles, solo voice, various solo wind instruments, piano, solo percussion, solo string instruments, and various other instruments such as organ, cembalo, accordion, and harmonica.
Ito is probably most well known as a composer of band music. Among his most popular works for wind ensemble are Gloriosa (Gururiyoza), which is among the most frequently played repertories in the world, and Festal Scenes, the piece which with Ito made his United States debut in 1987.
Other notable pieces for wind ensemble by Ito are The Symphony (1990) and Melodies for Wind Ensemble (1995), both commissioned by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. In recent years, Ito has dedicated much of his time and talent to composing vocal music. In the year 2001, Ito debuted his first opera, titled Mr. Cinderella. The opera received much critical acclaim and greatly impacted the followers of the Japanese opera scene.
As well as having a career as a celebrated composer, Yasuhide Ito is a very well known pianist. He has performed as a soloist and alongside many widely recognized artists. Among these musicians are Trevor Wye, William Bennett, Steven Mead, Brian Bowman, Miura Toru, and Sugawa Nobuya.
Ito is the author of Kangakki no Meikyoku Meienso (The Masterpieces and Great Performances of Wind Instruments) and has translated Frank Erickson’s Arranging for Concert Band into Japanese.