Renowned Japanese Composer To Receive Berkeley Prize

The internationally acclaimed musician and activist Ryuichi Sakamoto will perform and speak at two events in Berkeley in conjunction with his being chosen as this year's recipient of the Berkeley Japan Prize.

Influential Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto – an electronic music pioneer, composer of the Academy Award-winning score for The Last Emperor and a noted environmental activist – will give a solo piano performance and two talks in Berkeley in February.

Sakamoto is coming to UC Berkeley as this year's recipient of the Berkeley Japan Prize for the campus' Center for Japanese Studies.

He is the third winner of the award, established in 2008. Other winners were novelist Haruki Murakami and animated film director Hayao Miyazaki.

Here is the schedule of Sakamoto's appearances from the Center for Japanese Studies:


3:00-4:30 pm: Composer Colloquium Series: Ryuichi Sakamoto
Venue: Morrison Hall, Elkus Room 125

Sakamoto speaks at the Department of Music Composer Colloquium, in conjunction with being honored with the Berkeley Japan Prize. This event is only open to members of the Music Department.



1:00-2:30 pm: Eco-Activism in Japan and the U.S. Post-Fukushima
Venue: Alumni House, Toll Room

Sakamoto is well known for his involvement in No Nukes activism. He wrote the score for Alexei and the Spring (2002), a documentary film about the aftermath of Chernobyl, and organized the No Nukes Concert 2012 in Japan. In honor of Sakamoto's contributions to the rise of eco-activism, especially in the Post-Fukushima accident era, the Center for Japanese Studies hosts a panel of prominent scholars and activists, to be followed by comments from Sakamoto.

This event is free and open to the public.

8:00-9:30 pm: Ryuichi Sakamoto LIVE - Solo Piano + Talk

Venue: Hertz Hall

For this rare Bay Area appearance, Sakamoto performs a solo piano concert followed by a conversation with Ken Ueno (Associate Professor, Department of Music at UCB, Composer/Vocalist). Ticket price: $30 general / $10 students (present IDs at the door). Buy tickets online, or by calling Cal Performances at 510.642.9988, or in person at Zellerbach Hall.

The Center for Japanese Studies also provided this biographical sketch of Sakamoto:

Ryuichi Sakamoto began his career in 1978 as a founding member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, and emerged as a pioneer in electronic music. He began acting and composing for film with Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983). His score for The Last Emperor (1987) won him an Academy Award for Best Original Score, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, and Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. His score for The Sheltering Sky (1990) won him his second Golden Globe Award, and his score for Little Buddha (1993) received another Grammy Award nomination.

Sakamoto's visionary and genre-defying work as a musician, with his dozens of film scores, pop music, classical music as well as experimental glitch, has demonstrated universal appeal beyond Japan. His collaborations have included some of the biggest musical stars in the world, such as Michael Jackson, and prominent cultural figures, such as the Dalai Lama. He helped to shape musical thinking in the incorporation of electronic instruments. Sakamoto has also been an outspoken advocate of eco-activism. Among his film scores are those for Original Child Bomb: Meditations on the Nuclear Age (2004), a short film about the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Alexei and the Spring, a documentary about a Belarus village 180 kilometers downwind of Chernobyl. After the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, he organized the No Nukes 2012 Concert in Chiba, Japan.


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