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Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, March 10, 2000

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Minoru Miki, composer, shows his score to "Pacific
Rainbow -- An Orchestral Ode to Akio Morita."

‘Pacific Rainbow’ pays
tribute to Sony founder

By Tim Ryan


COMPOSING music is never easy, but when the piece is commissioned to reflect on the life of a world business leader, innovator and philanthropist, it does increase the challenge.

The Honolulu Symphony on performs the world premiere of "Pacific Rainbow -- An Orchestral Ode" to Sony founder and chairman Akio Morita Sunday and Tuesday at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.

The 12-minute piece by acclaimed Japanese composer Minoru Miki reflects not only the distance and differences between Japan and the United States, but also the "friendship and dreams" the two nations share, said Miki, 69.

Morita died in Japan last year after a long illness.

It took Miki two months to compose "Pacific Rainbow" which, he said, symbolizes the connection the countries "must strive to keep despite our many differences."


Bullet What: World premiere of "Pacific Rainbow -- An Orchestral Ode to Akio Morita," composed by Minoru Miki; Holst "The Planets" with violinist Akiko Suwanai
Bullet When: 4 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Bullet Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Bullet Cost: $15 to $50
Bullet Call:Charge by phone: 792-2000

"I had tremendous respect for Mr. Morita though I never met him," Miki said. "Perhaps if I knew him personally, this piece would have been easier to create."

Miki graduated from Tokyo National University of Music, majoring in music composition. He founded Pro Musica Nipponia in 1964, serving as artistic director for 20 years, leading the contemporary Japanese instrumental world and producing more than 160 performances abroad. He currently serves as a director of the Japan Federation of Composers and is a visiting professor of the Shikoku University.

"My goal was to internationalize traditional Japanese instruments," said Miki, whose album, "The Music of Minoru Miki," won the Grand Prize in Japan's 1970 National Arts Festival; his next album "Minoru Miki -- Keiko Nosaka/Music for 20-String Koto" won the festival's Prize of Excellence in 1979.

He wrote his first opera "Shunkin-Sho" in 1976, winning the Giraud Opera Prize. Three years later, Miki wrote his next opera, "An Actor's Revenge," commissioned by the English Music Theatre which world premiered in London.

"My specialty really is opera and while I was composing the piece for Mr. Morita, I was able to finish my seventh opera, 'The Tale of Genji,' which took me three years," said Miki, who has written more than 131 musical compositions. His works include "Paraphrase After Ancient Japanese Music," "Tennyo," "Convexity," "From the East," "Concerto Requiem" and "Ki-no-Kane."

"I have done what is called serious operas where I directed the themes toward ancient and medieval ages," he said.

In 1986, Miki founded Uta-Za, an opera theatre to create folk operas like "The Monky Poet," "Yomigaeru" and "Terute & Oguri." Then in 1990, he founded the Yui Ensemble with both instrumental and vocal soloists. He is also pushing forward the project "Minoru Miki and Asian soloists," working with artists such as Yang Jing, a gifted pipa player who is learning composition from him.

Miki in 1996 wrote the book "The Theory of Composing for Japanese Instruments." He was awarded the Cultural Prize of Tokushima Prefecture in 1991 and an honorable Purple Ribbon Metal in 1994.

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