Yu Kuwabara profile  photo, 桑原ゆう写真

to Yu Kuwabara biography in Japanese


Tokyo-based Japanese composer Yu Kuwabara (b. 1984) makes music to ask herself who she is. For several years, she has been researching and learning traditional Japanese music, arts, and thought to extend as far back as possible to her origins and to confirm her own sense of being. She has collaborated with numerous artists who use traditional Japanese art forms, including Noh performers, a Rakugo Performer Kokontei Shinsuke (Japanese traditional verbal entertainment), the Japanese Buddhist chant group Shomyo no Kai, Voices of a Thousand Years, and many other performers of traditional Japanese instruments due to investigating her musical language between the past and the present, and also between Japan and the rest of the world.

Yu Kuwabara was commissioned by important festivals, concerts, and ensembles such as Festival 20/21 Transit, International Ensemble Modern Academy in the context of CRESC... Biennale für Aktuelle Musik Frankfurt Rhein-Main, I&I Foundation, ZeitRäume Basel - Biennale für neue Musik und Architektur, National Theatre of Japan, Shizuoka AOI, Yokohama Minato-Mirai Hall Just Composed 2020 Spring, Kanagawa Kenritsu Ongakudo, Kanagawa Kenmin Hall, Riot Ensemble in the context of Zeitgeist Commissions, Divertimento Ensemble, Ensemble Proton Bern, neuverBand, AsianArt Ensemble, loadbang, Shomyo no Kai - Voices of a Thousand Years, Reigakusha, among others. Her works have been performed at numerous prestigious festivals (Darmstädter Ferienkurse, CRESC... Biennale für Aktuelle Musik Frankfurt Rhein-Main, Ultraschall Berlin, Tectonics Glasgow, Festical Musica, Mostra Sonora Sueca, EXPO Milano 2015, Music From Japan, Divertimento Ensemble Rondò, Tongyeong International Music Festival, Takefu International Music Festival, and others) and in many other concerts around the world with various ensembles and performers (Enno Poppe and Ensemble Modern, Trio Accanto, soloists from Ensemble Intercontemporain, Talea Ensemble, Klangforum Wien, Alarm Will Sound, mdi ensemble, Sentieri selvaggi, Ensemble Mise-en, Reigakusha, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Nicolas Hodges, Ilya Gringolts, Marco Fusi, William Lang, Claire Chase, Rebekah Heller, Stefan Hussong, Camilla Hoitenga, Toshiya Suzuki, Kosei Murata, Hidejiro Honjoh, and others).

In 2021, she was awarded The 31st Yasushi Akutagawa Suntory Award for Music Composition (formerly known as The Akutagawa Composition Award) for her work Time Abyss. She also is the winner of the international composition contest ‘Breaking Music’ (2019, Milan), the winner of the 5th edition of Divertimento Ensemble’s ‘Franco Donatoni’ International Meeting for Young Composers (2018, Milan), and the winner of the 2017-18 edition of neuverBand’s Construct-Radiate International Composition Competition (2018, Basel). She also has been received numerous prizes and selected in numerous other competitions such as Protonwerk, the finalist of the Asian Composers Showcase 2018, the finalist in the Japan Music Competition (2005, 2006 & 2009, Japan), and Tokyo Arts and Space (former Tokyo Wonder Site) Aoyama Creator-in-Residence (2009-10). Furthermore, she is one of the resident composers of Mizzou International Composers Festival 2020 and 2021. The one-hour program titled “Composer Yu Kuwabara, the old and the new do not contradict each other,” which features her works and activities, was broadcasted on the German radio station Deutschlandfunk. (→Atelier neuer Musik “Die Komponistin Yu Kuwabara - Neu und alt sind kein Widerspruch”)

She has studied composition with Shin Sato and Toshihiko Hisayuki, and completed her master's degree at Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA). She has taken part in prestigious academies, including Lucerne Festival Academy Composer Seminar, Academy Voix Nouvelles Foundation Royaumont, the 9th International Composition Seminar of IEMA, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Delian Academy For New Music, and impuls, among others.

Her scores are published from Edition Gravis (Berlin, Germany) and Edition Wunn (Essleben, Germany).

She is a lecturer at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music, and also teaching for several composition courses for children by Yamaha Music Foundation.

She is a composer of Awai-Za, a chamber ensemble mixed with new music and Japanese Edo culture. Her first portrait concert Shadowless - Yu Kuwabara Portrait [Awai-Za Recital Series Vol.1] (→concert report in Japanese) held at Tokyo Opera City Recital Hall on 19 July, 2019 was highly acclaimed.

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