Aki Takahashi

Aki Takahashi

Contemporary Piano

"Phenomenal pianist of the avant-garde." The Village Voice

One of the world’s greatest piano virtuosos, Aki Takahashi has been revered for her consummate technique and musicianship as much as for the freshness and sparkle of her interpretations of new music. Presiding over a sublime communion with some of today’s most challenging repertoire for solo piano, Takahashi gives a concert that includes works by Morton Feldman, Peter Garland, Marc Sabat and Somei Satoh—plus selections from the celebrated Hyper Beatles series arranged by Akira Nishimura, Pauline Oliveros, Carl Stone and James Tenney.


Somei Satoh: HASHI (Bridges) (2006), world premiere
Peter Garland: Waves Breaking on Rocks (Elegy for All of Us) (2003), U.S. premiere
Marc Sabat: Nocturne (1996)
Morton Feldman: Extensions 3 (1952)
Selections from the Hyper Beatles collection (1989-91)

  • Pauline Oliveros: Norwegian Wood
  • Akira Nishimura: Because
  • Carl Stone: She Said She Said
  • James Tenney: Do You Want to Know a Secret
  • James Tenney: Love Me Do

Pianist Aki Takahashi made her debut performing the music of Toru Takemitsu while still a graduate student at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music. She is widely acknowledged for her classical musicianship, while her enthusiasm for new music and critical citation for her imaginative interpretations have attracted the attention of many noted composers: John Cage, Morton Feldman, Isang Yun, Akira Nishimura, Somei Satoh and Peter Garland have all created works expressly for her.

Ms. Takahashi held her first public solo recital in 1970 and has regularly appeared around the world since her recitals in 1972 at the Berlin Festival Week and Paris Autumn Festival. Other international venues where she has performed include the Holland Festival, Los Angeles’ New Music America, the Berlin Metamusik, the Lincoln Center Festival, ULTIMA Oslo Contemporary Music Festival and Maerz Musik in Berlin. Ms. Takahashi’s career has earned her a succession of plaudits and awards including the Kenzo Nakajima Prize (1983, 2003), the Kyoto Music Award (1986), and the Grand Prize at the Japan Art Festival (1973) for her recording, Aki Takahashi Piano Space (Toshiba EMI).

A series of Erik Satie concerts she presented in Tokyo from 1975 to 1977 heralded the so-called Satie boom in Japan and resulted in her editing (13 volumes from Zen-On) and recording (eight CDs) all his piano works. She further demonstrated her commitment to promoting new music in 1983 with the “Aki Takahashi New Ears Series” in Yokohama, a 15-year endeavor. In a project conceived, carried out, and performed by Aki Takahashi, a number of composers were commissioned to create works inspired by various Beatles songs. Of the resulting 4-CD set entitled “The Hyper Beatles Series” (Toshiba EMI), the first album was hailed by the New York Times as “Best CD of 1990”.

Nocturne (1996) Marc Sabat
Nocturne was composed as a study of metric modulations in slow tempo. Each new pattern is introduced as a polyrhythm in relation to the currently sounding cycle. In time, its own tempo is allowed to dominate and redefine the perceived pulse. The mathematical relationships of tempi are perceived as simple intervallic expansions and contractions of the flowing passage of time. The piece is dedicated to Linda Catlin Smith.

Marc Sabat is a Canadian composer, violinist and researcher living in Berlin since 1999. He has written concert music for various ensembles including acoustic instruments, live computer and electronics, as well as making recorded projects involving sound and video (installations, internet pieces, CDs and DVDs). His work is available through Plainsound Music Edition. He has co-developed The Extended Helmholtz-Ellis JI Pitch Notation, and teaches courses in acoustics and experimental intonation at the Universität der Künste Berlin. Sabat also performs chamber music and solo concerts, and has recorded music on various labels including Mode, World Edition and Hat[now]Art. Marc Sabat studied at the University of Toronto and the Juilliard School of Music in New York. He is currently a visiting composer at the California Institute of the Arts.

HASHI (Bridges) (2006) Somei Satoh, world premiere
I have written four piano pieces of the title named HASHI (Bridges). In Japanese legend, it is said there is a deep river between this world and the other world. It is believed that there is a bridge across the river, which was built by innumerable magpies. The bridge is used to pass the dead. The bridge of magpies that floats on the darkness is something that symbolizes the meaning of my life. The title called HASHI originates in this legend. This piece is dedicated to Aki Takahashi.

Somei Satoh was born in Japan in 1947 and currently lives in Tokyo. Largely self-taught as a composer he came to musical creation through the spiritual exercises of both Shintoism and Zen Buddhism. In early 1970s, after his attending the Nihon University of Art, Satoh joined the Tone Field performance group, an experimental inter-arts ensemble which performed his earliest composition. These early compositions include those for solo piano or for piano with electronics in which he explored gradations of sound by employing tremolos of single tones or clusters using the instrument's various registers of dynamics. In some ways, Satoh’s techniques and career path paralleled those of the American minimalists. His music, like theirs, has developed in complexity and sophistication over the years. Over the course of the 1970s, his instrumental palette diversified and his music took on a greater melodiousness. By the 1980s, his music became more sensual after the model of the Romantic tradition. A visiting artist grant from the Asian Cultural Council enabled him to spend a year in the United States in 1983. Eventually, he received commissions from the Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can, and the New York Philharmonic, among others. Currently, Satoh tends to focus his work on large orchestral forces. His compositions have been recorded for New Albion, Lovely Music, Mode, and Alm.

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SUN 11/12
7:00 pm

G - General Audience

M - REDCAT Members

ST - Students

CA - CalArts Students/Faculty/Staff