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News release

No. she020July 28, 2020

Suntory Hall Summer Festival 2020
August 22-30, 2020 at Suntory Hall, Tokyo

Suntory Hall Summer Festival 2020 will take place on 22-30 August. Initiated in 1987, this annual celebration of contemporary music now forms an important part of Tokyo’s summer music scene. Every August, leading musicians in the field gather at Suntory Hall to present cutting edge works by an impressive lineup of composers from both Japan and abroad.
This year’s programme has been modified due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. In previous years, the Summer Festival has been formed of three different strands: (1) “The Producer Series”, (2) “Theme Composer” as part of the “Suntory Hall International Program for Music Composition” series, and (3) “Yasushi Akutagawa Suntory Award for Music Composition”. But this year, the International Program for Music Composition has been postponed due to travel restrictions of overseas artists. The festival plans to reschedule the focus on German composer Isabel Mundry to 2022 or beyond.
Also, the Summer Festival will be held with precautionary measures against COVID-19, in line with the current guidelines set by the Tokyo Metropolitan government regarding reduced capacity and social distancing between audience members as well as Suntory Hall’s house guidelines.

This year’s amended programme is as follows:

  1. “The Producer Series: Toshi Ichiyanagi”
    In this series, each year a different producer is selected to curate a series of contemporary music from his/her unique point of view. This year, the series is produced by the doyen of the Japanese contemporary music world, Toshi Ichiyanagi, who first made a name for himself as an avant-garde around 1960 in New York. Fittingly, he has titled the series “2020 Tokyo – Avant-garde”, an exploration of the role of avant-garde in the 20th and 21st centuries. Suntory Hall has commissioned new orchestral works to four leading composers, Akiko Yamane, Kazutomo Yamamoto, Yoichi Sugiyama, and Motoharu Kawashima, who represent the diverse voices of the current Japanese contemporary music scene (August 26, 30, Main Hall). Meanwhile, the series also looks back at the role of the twentieth-century avant-garde through the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen (August 22), Elliott Carter (August 23), and Yuji Takahashi, Japanese composer and pianist who has led the Tokyo avant-garde scene since the 1960s together with Ichiyanagi (August 26). The series will conclude with the world premiere of Ichiyanagi’s latest symphony, his eleventh, commissioned by Suntory Hall (August 30, Main Hall).
  2. The second strand of Summer Festival 2020 is the “Yasushi Akutagawa Suntory Award for Music Composition” (August 29, Main Hall). Founded in honor of the composer Yasushi Akutagawa in 1990, the award is given to the most notable orchestral work premiered during the previous year. Following the performance of the three shortlisted works, the judging process is held on stage in public. The winner receives ¥1,500,000 as well as a commission for a new orchestral work to be performed in 2022. The works of this year’s three finalists, Yujiro Ariyoshi, Kenta Onoda, and Noeru Hiyamizu, will be performed by Ryusuke Numajiri and the New Japan Philharmonic, preceded by the world premiere of the new work by Naoki Sakata, winner in 2018. On the jury are Hitomi Kaneko, Tomoko Fukui, and Misato Mochizuki, and the on-stage deliberations will be chaired by Professor Seiji Choki of Tokyo University.

For further information and press photos, please contact:
Public Relations, Suntory Hall