Takemitsu and the Canadian connection

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I have just been reading a very interesting blog post about Toru Takemitsu that talks of his many connections with Canada and Toronto. The article is a discussion of a recording of his pieces : TAKEMITSU: Toward the Sea / Rain Tree / Rain Spell / Bryce. The recording features Robert Aitken and the Toronto New Music Ensemble. Rain Tree has long been in NEXUS’ repertoire, a lovely piece that was inspired by a passage in a novel by Kenzaburo Oe, in which the author describes a tree that stores water during rainfall and lets it fall from its abundant foliage through the following midday. (NEXUS recorded Rain Tree on their CD (#10262) “NEXUS Now”). One memorable performance of Rain Tree given by NEXUS took place at the 1989 New Music America festival in Merkin Concert Hall, reviewed most favorably by the New York Times. About Rain Tree, the Times reported that “Mr. Takemitsu composed a work in which ringing sonorities build upon one another and hang in the air.” Another piece with a deep NEXUS connection on this recording is Bryce, written by Takemisu after he met Robin Engelman’s young son Bryce and showed him origami and played some soft ball! Toru looked up the meaning of the name “Bryce” and when he discovered it meant “the centre of feeling” he told Robin, “I am going to write a piece.”
A close friendship developed between Takemitsu and a number of Canadian artists including Robert Aitken and NEXUS, and a number of Takemitsu works received their first performances in Toronto, coached by Takemitsu in person. Takemitsu also personally hosted at least two NEXUS visits to Japan (1976 and 1984) to perform on Takemitsu’s “Music Today” concerts in Tokyo, and you will find that we have been posting some of the wonderful “Music Today” videos on our Facebook page.  Takemitsu’s concerto “From me flows what you call Time…” was written for NEXUS and the Boston Symphony under the baton of Seiji Ozawa who also has close Toronto ties. (NEXUS recorded “From me flows what you call Time” on the SONY Classical CD #SK-83044). Canada awarded Takemitsu posthumously with the highly presitigious Glenn Could Prize for his exceptional contribution to the international world of music. You can read the full article here.

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