Do I Hear a Melody? Yes, and It Just Might Be His

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Do I Hear a Melody? Yes, and It Just Might Be His

Joe Hisaishi has written some of the most memorable movie scores in modern Japanese cinema. In the animated classic, "My Neighbor Totoro," Mr. Hisaishi's swelling, sentimental score expressed the joy and sadness of the characters as much as the movie's images did. In the award-winning "Hana-bi" ("Fireworks"), the music defined the movie's extremes, alternately tranquil and explosive.

These films and many more were scored by Japan's foremost songwriter and pianist, Joe Hisaishi.

Mr. Hisaishi is scheduled to give his first-ever performance in Korea. On Nov. 8 at 7:30, he will present one concert at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.

One of the top Korean conductors living in Japan, Kim Heung-jae, will lead the Korean Symphonic Orchestra. Mr. Kim has performed with Mr. Hisaishi several times.

Mr. Hisaishi's live album "Symphonic Best Selections" is already on record shelves all around Korea.

Joe Hisaishi frequently works with the famous movie directors Kitano Takeshi and Miyazaki Hayao. The director Kitano Takeshi has received much media attention in Korea since several of his best films were released here, including "Hana-bi," "Kids Return," and "Sonatine."

Director Miyazaki Hayao is one of the most acclaimed maker of animated movies in Japan, having directed such hits as "Princess Mononoke," "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind," the forementioned "My Neighbor Totoro," and the forthcoming "Spirited Away." Both of these directors' films rely heavily on the powerful force of Mr. Hisaishi's music.

Born on Dec. 6, 1950, in Nagano, Japan, Mr. Hisaishi has come to define the music of Japanese animation with his versatile music that is sometimes quite subtle, leading the scene with its powerful melody and other times it is dynamic, with a pounding beat.

Mr. Hisaishi began his career as a composer when he was still a student at the Kunitachi College of Music. He released his first minimalist album "Information" in 1982, then quickly moved into scoring animated movies under Hayao Miyazaki, beginning with "Nausicaa."

Every year from 1992 to 1994, Mr. Hisaishi won the best music score award at the Japanese Academy Awards. In 1998, he received the best music award at the Venice International Film Festival gaining international recognition.

In addition, he writes instrumental music and music for television advertisements, documentaries and videos.

The major characteristic of Mr. Hisaishi's music is his use of easy and catchy melodies constructed using simple, classical techniques and building to a memorable climax. Moreover, his simple, ingenuous melodies and performance style are heartwarming and engaging to movie audiences. His scores not only enliven the various movies, but are significant works of music in and of themselves.

Mr. Hisaishi's music revives and makes use of traditional Japanese rhythms and melodies using arrangements that are euphonic and simple. In short, his music expresses the essence of Japan and at the same time is accessible to international audiences.

Several of Mr. Hisaishi's movie soundtracks are already available in Korea, including "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" and "Princess Mononoke."

Other albums in Korea include the soundtracks for "Hana-bi," "First Love," "Kids Return," "Kikujiro's Summer" and a live orchestral performance album, "Works."

by Choe Jae-hee

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