Composers’ networking and fandom – Japanese style

(written by Mioko Yokoyama)

Hello everyone, I’m Mioko. I moved from Tokyo, Japan to Helsinki last autumn. I have to confess that I don’t know very much about Korvat auki, but while Japan is still very fresh in my mind, I would like to compare Finnish composers with Japanese ones in terms of how they organize themselves professionally.

Firstly, I have a quite good impression of Korvat auki. Since there is no association like this in Japan, young composers hold that they are still children who are being protected by “adult” composers, and so, do not acquire much experience in working independently or promoting their own music.

In my opinion, it would be difficult to establish even a single composers’ association in Tokyo despite it having nearly ten schools of art or music. This is partly because of the shyness of us Japanese. I was a typical student, I focused on my studying without thinking of setting up an association like Korvat auki.

Adult composers, however, enjoy wide social networks, many of which overlap although these, too, can be quite limited insofar as that these groups sometimes consist solely of students of a single teacher; for example, Apsaras, 21th Century Music Association, Avance, etc. These groups have their own concerts at least once a year, it seems the main difference is the teacher who the members in these groups studied with.

Three possible reasons for Japan’s lack of young composers’ associations are:

Japan has 20 times the population than Finland’s (120,000,000 inhabitants). This means that there are a lot of people who have different opinions, so it is difficult to meet and reach a single consensus.
In Japanese culture, it is expected that young people respect their elders. I never imagined calling teachers by their first names before coming to Finland. In school, we use respectful expressions for those who are even only one year older. Conversely, we use casual expressions with those who are even slightly younger. This culture derives from Confucianism. So because of this, young people (not limited only to composers) tend to be strongly influenced by their teachers.
If you are a fan of one composer, you should go to their compositional concerts so as to “connect” with their social network, and perhaps hear some music that matches your aesthetic values! Although, sometimes, these associations organise only one single concert a year.
This is the case in Japan, yet I really like Korvat auki’s approach – that young composers actively organize concerts, with the support of older composers.

Special thanks to my composer friends in Japan, and Criostóir Ó Loingsiġ, who helped me with my English!

Mioko YOKOYAMA (Helsinki FI / JP)

Composer, since autumn 2015 a Korvat auki member