Did you know that there was a “Japanese” composer who submitted the orchestral work Formosan Dance to the 1936 Berlin Olympic International Music Competition, winning against the likes of Kosaku Yamada? Bunya Koh was born in Taiwan under Japanese occupation, grew up in Japan-occupied Xiamen in China and made his name as a vocalist as well as composer in Japan. While he was initially given a professorship in China, the Cold War tensions and events such as the Cultural Revolution caused him to die an obscure artist, unable to return to either of his two homelands.
Amidst the hardships of his era, Koh studied ancient Confucian music, passionately researching and collecting ethnomusic across Taiwan, Japan, and China, and writing scores based on his findings – it would not be an exaggeration to suggest that these very compositions were his fieldnotes. In the present day, how can we begin to approach the wild realm of “no country music” he left behind?
Internationally active Taiwan-based artist Hong-Kai Wang will confront this question. Having conducted, in collaboration with specialists, research into Koh’s practice, Wang organizes a creative workshop in which she will share, sonically and somatically, the results. By embarking as a group on “listening, reading, singing, spatalization, audiencing,” and more, participants will collectively develop “clairaudience” with and a fresh, imaginative outlook on Bunya Koh and his music – as well as on the historical events that took place in East Asia during his lifetime, which have shaped us all forever.
About the creative workshop
Based on research, musical scores, and more, this workshop will explore methods of physically and collectively experiencing the life and music of Bunya Koh. Through guest lectures, visits to places associated with his life, and discussions of his scores, participants will pass through the nations, histories, and cultures in which he lived, revisiting what one composer saw as the possibilities of the musical form.
Recommended for those who:
・ Wish to participate in a creative workshop and learn how contemporary art is structured and produced
・ Are interested in Asian musical cultures, Asian folk music, and so on
・ Are interested in the modern history of East Asia
Bunya Koh (1910-1983)
Bunya Koh was born in Taiwan in 1910 and moved to Ueda in Japan’s Nagano prefecture for his education at the age of 13. Having developed an interest in music, he studied composition in Tokyo under Kosaku Yamada and Kunihiko Hashimoto, creating piano pieces, vocal music, symphonies, and other compositions that fused modernist principles with Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese musical styles. With the end of the war in 1945, his appointment as a professor of musical arts at the Teacher’s College in Beijing caused him to lose his Japanese citizenship, separating him from his Japanese family. Koh remained at the mercy of the era in the years that followed, faring poorly under Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang in Taiwan and later the Cultural Revolution in Mainland China. While his reputation was restored following the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1978, he subsequently passed away in Beijing in 1983. The 2004 film Café Lumière, directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien, is constructed around his story, including his piano compositions on the soundtrack as well as appearances by his surviving Japanese family members.
Born in Huwei, Taiwan, Hong-Kai Wang’s approach to unceasing tensions between languages, ideologies, identities, and knowledge regimes questions the presuppositions of given histories and geographies, garnering her high international appraise. Her artwork spans a variety of media, including sound installation, performance, workshops, texts, and more. She is currently a PhD in Practice candidate from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Wang has participated in many international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale Taiwan Pavilion (2011) and Documenta 14, among others. In Japan, her works have been shown at Parasophia: Kyoto International Festival of Contemporary Culture 2015 and TPAM 2019.
March 2nd [Sat] / 17:00
March 3rd [Sun] / 17:00
*Artwork will be created during a three-day creative workshop held from January 26th [Sat] to 28th [Mon] (Reservations are required and not included in the general admission pass)
approx. 60 min.
Taiwan Cultural Center, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan
2F Toranomon Building 1-1-12 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0001
How to Participate
Booking essential. Show general admission pass on entry.
Chinese (with Japanese interpretation)
Concept, Direction, Performer｜Hong-Kai Wang
Research (Music history)｜Xiaoli Zheng
Interpretation, Translation, Research｜Muju Tsan
Venue and supported by Taiwan Cultural Center, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan
Creative workshop｜Free / Booking essential
– Date：January 26th [Sat], 27th [Sun] 13:00-18:00 and 28th [Mon] 18:00-21:30
– Venue：Taiwan Cultural Center, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan and others
– Application period: December 21st, 2018 – January 7th, 2019 (applicants will be notified of the results by email by January 15th)
– Number of places: 15. (in case of high demand, entry will be allocated by lottery)
– Application criteria:
・Must be able to participate for three days of the workshop.
・All nationalities are welcome. (The workshop will be held in Japanese via an interpreter)
Apply for workshop