Welcome to this virtual concert, which hopes to offer you an introduction to the work of Ryuichi Sakamoto. The occasion is a performance of his opera TIME in the Holland Festival (click on the link for more information + tickets).
TIME: A dreamer sits by the grave of a deceased woman and loses all sense of time. Only when she turns into a white lily does he realise a hundred years have passed. Inspired by the surreal first story from Soseki Natsume’s collection of short stories Yume jūya (‘Ten Nights of Dreams’) from 1908, the composer and Holland Festival associate artist Ryuichi Sakamoto teamed up with director and visual artist Shiro Takatani to make a wordless opera. Taking inspiration from a Mugen Noh – traditional Japanese dance theatre with magical elements – Sakamoto explores the phenomenon of time and the relationship between humankind and nature. Against a dreamlike backdrop that seems to go on forever, the dancer Min Tanaka portrays ‘humanity’, and shō player Mayumi Miyata represents ‘nature’ through movement and sound/music. Sakamoto: ‘We live and we die. And after we die, our body becomes part of the next being. This is samsara itself, the life circle of life on earth. In dreams, those temporal structures are not linear. Everything is condensed’.
Ryuichi Sakamoto 坂本龍一 became known as a member of the Japanese synthesiser rock group Yellow Magic Orchestra with co-founders Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi. The band was an important forerunner of acid house and techno music in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Sakamoto collaborated with David Sylvian on a large number of singles and most of Sylvian’s albums.
Sakamoto starred alongside British rock singer David Bowie in the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) by Japanese film director Nagisa Oshima.
Sakamoto also wrote the music for this film, including the song Forbidden Colours, sung by Sylvian. It became a modest hit.
Sakamoto won an Oscar for his film music for The Last Emperor (1987) by Bernardo Bertolucci, a movie that will also be shown at this year’s Holland Festival (in EYE). Click here to listen to a Dutch podcast about it.
Sakamoto has also written soundtracks for The sheltering sky and High Heels by Pedro Almodóvar, Wild Palms by Oliver Stone and Silk. He also co-wrote the soundtrack The Revenant in 2015 with Carsten Nicolai, better known as Alva Noto.
In 1992, Sakamoto composed the music for the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics (1992), which was broadcast worldwide and attracted over a billion viewers. In 1993, he composed the music for Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Little Buddha. He composed the start-up sound of the Sega Dreamcast game console in 1998.
In 2004, he released the album Chasm, and in 2009 he released Out of Noise.
In the field of ambient music, Sakamoto has collaborated with Alva Noto and Fennesz. With Noto he released Vrioon (2002), Insen (2005) and Revep (2005) among others, with Fennesz Sala Santa Cecilia (2005) and Cendre (2007).
Sakamoto is married to Japanese pianist and singer Akiko Yano, with whom he has collaborated on several recordings.