Photo: Takashi Arai
Originally from Japan and currently based in Tokyo, Tomoko Momiyama works internationally as a music composer, dramaturg, and producer of multi-disciplinary art events, installations, and performances. She graduated from Stanford University in the U.S. with B.A. in Music and Human Biology and further studied composition at the Royal Conservatory of the Netherlands in The Hague under the Japanese Government Overseas Study Programme for Artists. Tomoko’s works, many of which are community-based and site-specific, have been performed throughout Japan, as well as in different parts of Asia, Europe, North and Central Americas, and Africa.
In search of music that is folk and contemporary at the same time, Tomoko attempts to create music that belongs not only to herself but also to people and the world around them, while reflecting on contemporary aesthetics and concerns. She approaches the role of a composer as a medium of communication and intervenes in the relationships between people and their environments, in order to weave diverse narratives into multi-layered music. Composed through in-depth research of each site and intimately connected to the contexts of their creation, her works invite the audience to listen to what may be inaudible at first and shift their paradigms away from anthropocentrism. By challenging pre-existing social as well as personal boundaries and addressing the issues of identity from manifold perspectives, Tomoko ultimately questions what is home in today’s society.
Tomoko has developed a unique methodology for collective composition involving people from various backgrounds, who are not necessarily trained in music. In addition to working with communities of displaced people, disaster survivors, social minority groups, children, and elders, she has collaborated with international music ensembles, visual artists, choreographers, theater directors, literary artists, scientists, activists, and shamans, among others. Her projects cross a wide range of media and their outputs vary from live concerts to electro-acoustic music, interactive installations, participatory theater pieces on disability and gender issues, and ritual performances inviting people to communicate with different elements in their ecology, such as wind, water, and trees.
Commissions and invitations include San Francisco International Arts Festival 2019 (U.S.A.), Contemporary Art Tasmania (Australia), Asian Composers League Festival (Philippines), INA-GRM (France), Camera Japan Festival (the Netherlands), Unyazi Festival of Electronic Music (South Africa), Saitama Triennale 2016 (Japan), the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (Japan), Yokohama Minato-mirai Hall (Japan), and etc. She has won the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company “Able Art on Stage” Grant Program, the Nippon Foundation Fellowships for Asian Public Intellectuals, and the Asia Center Fellowship Program, among others. Tomoko is the director of “minori-majorite travel” art company, the founding board member of the “Japan Association of Composers for Sumo Hearing Arts” (JACSHA), and the co-director of Art Translators Collective.
© Tomoko Momiyama