Volume 35 Number 3 (Spring 2008)
A Conversation with Toru Miura
by Jason Smith
Toru Miura was born in Osaka, Japan in 1948. In 1971, he earned a B.M. degree from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, Conservatory of Music, where he studied under Professor Kiyoshi Ohishi. In 1973, Mr. Miura received an M.M. degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, studying euphonium with Raymond Young. The same year, he attended the First International T.U.B.A. Symposium (held at Indiana University). From 1973 to 1974, he studied with Cherry Beauregard at the Eastman School of Music and performed in the Eastman Wind Ensemble, conducted by Donald Hunsberger. At present, he is professor of the euphonium and wind orchestras at the Kunitachi College of Music (originally founded in 1926 as the Tokyo Conservatory of Music). Due to this prestigious appointment, he took early retirement from the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra where he had been performing as the solo euphoniumist (1978–2007). Mr. Miura is also founder of the Tokyo Bari-Tuba Ensemble and The Euphonium Company.
As a soloist, he has presented performances at six International Tuba Euphonium Conferences and two International Brass Congresses. As a founding member of T.U.B.A./ITEA, he has served as the International Representative for Japan, Euphonium Coordinator, and the Vice President for International Relationships and, as well, on the organization’s Board of Directors.
This June at ITEA 2008, ITEA recognizes Mr. Miura’s significant contributions to the musical world as musician, pedagogue, scholar, and ambassador of the euphonium and tuba by awarding him the Lifetime Achievement Award, the organization’s highest honor. Mr. Miura has had an absolutely astounding career. Performing under some of the greatest conductors, such as Maestro Frederick Fennell, he has practically witnessed first hand the evolvement of the professional wind band into the 21st century. His efforts as an internationally recognized euphonium artist and teacher, his dedication to representing his heritage at countless international stages, and his tireless efforts in bringing the world’s greatest artists (such as Roger Bobo, Winston Morris, Brian Bowman, Raymond Young, Harvey Phillips, etc.) to Japan in a effort to increase the awareness and evolvement of the euphonium and tuba is profound.
Certainly recognizable as a fixture for euphonium in Japan, he has maintained his dedication to the ideal of the tuba-euphonium community for better communication and advancement. He has been a regular contributor to the TUBA/ITEA Journal authoring articles dedicated to the state of the tuba/euphonium in Japan, euphonium performance opportunities, and continually evolving an assessment of wind band and other performance opportunities that have greatly increased since his first article written in 1981.
Whereas all recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award this summer, which also include John Stevens, James Self, Robert Tucci, and a posthumous award being given to Jan Koetsier, will be recognized with their award citations being published in a issue of the ITEA Journal following ITEC. Mr. Miura, unfortunately, will be unable to attend ITEC 2008, and he was more than gracious to set aside some time to dedicate to a brief question and answer for the Journal.
Toru Miura (Fall 1971)
You have had an incredible career, and, hopefully, all tuba/euphonium players realize the significant impact you have had on the evolvement of the tuba/euphonium in Japan. Following your graduate studies in the United States, how would you assess the growth of our instruments in your country/region. In other words, can you compare now versus then?
Thank you very much for giving me such praise! I simply have been doing my best with those things that I love! “Who likes not his business, his business likes not him.” First of all, I would like to express my deep gratitude to my parents who supported and permitted my overseas study. They are truly wonderful people who taught me among life’s lessons the important things about being human, what the sovereign of music is, and allowed me to master playing skill. In addition, I am also deeply grateful to the great American teachers and friends whom I met in the States.
Toru Miura (1972)
At the present time there are more than 23 music colleges/institutes in Japan where professional euphoniumists teach. It is a truly big change compared to before when I came back from the United States in 1974. There are two full-time professional wind bands not belonging to any army or troop, and they are the Osaka Municipal Symphonic Band, which belongs to the Osaka City Government, and the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, which belongs to the Ray Buddhist Organization, Rissho Kosei-Kai in Tokyo.
Tokyo Bari-Tuba Ensemble concert
Besides these two groups, there are service bands such as Ground, Naval and Air Defense Force Bands, police and fire department bands, all of which belong to governments. In addition, there are various pro-wind bands, brass bands and small ensembles, which have no specific sponsorship. Nearly 30 symphony orchestras exist for tuba players. Thirty-four years ago, there used to be a slow mode and peaceful atmosphere. Various kinds of information and knowledge were accepted by a lot of young tubists and euphoniumists as a breath of fresh air from the United States.
Who believes the tubist can play a melody? Well, these were young musicians who previously were in solitude then assembled under my direction and expected to do wonderful things. Can you believe that I am the man who widely popularized the Remington’s Warm Up Studies in Japan. We are most grateful to “Chief,” Emory Remington and his legacy. Now in Japan, even elementary-school kids enjoy performing lip slurs!
TBTE concert (1983)
Presently, Roger Bobo’s Mastering the Tuba is very popular among low brass players in Japan, and I often use it with my students too. But, I still prefer to use the Remington’s for my morning warm-up (for avoiding Professor’s chops!).
You serve as vice-President of the Japan Euphonium Tuba Association. It’s very interesting that this organization has actually been active since 1974, which is practically the same time that T.U.B.A. was officially founded. Can you discuss your experiences at the 1973 symposium, held at Indiana University, and the impact this had on your work once you returned to Japan.
TBTE at the U.S. Congress
I took part in the T.U.B.A. Symposium that was held at Bloomington, Indiana in 1973. I was stimulated and was heavily influenced by Harvey Phillips. First of all, I learned two important things: the spirit of service and the appropriate financial power for having a big event like the symposium. In those days, the organization of T.U.B.A. was established by volunteer work on behalf of people like Harvey Phillips! During the symposium, just as one feared, Harvey became ill from overworking at the event, which unfortunately prohibited us from hearing him perform. I was so impressed by his generosity, broad-mindedness, and superb skillfulness as a host of the symposium. It was also a great chance for me to play with my friend, Brian Bowman, in a performance of Don Butterfield’s Summer Day for euphonium-tuba ensemble. We became good friends. Bowman was 26, and I was 24 years old. Brian also preached about the future of the euphonium during his panel discussion, “You Play What?”
#6 ITEC Mass Ensemble (1983)
He mentioned it is so important for euphonium players to insist our name and presence on society. Those things I observed and learned from the First Symposium in May 1973 played a major role in my activities in Japan. On February 25, 1976, I performed an important recital in Tokyo. At the end of the program, with friends we performed Arthur Frackenpohl’s Pop Suite, a work we premiered with large ensemble under the baton of Frederick Fennell at the Symposium. I named this special ensemble the Tokyo Bari-Tuba Ensemble. Later, the ensemble grew to include students from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, Kunitachi College of Music, freelance musicians, and orchestra players.
Miura with his studio from the Kunitachi College of Music
One of the primary benefits from establishing the Tokyo Bari-Tuba Ensemble is that a majority of our members have actually been offered jobs through TBTE performance activities. Although they were unknown at the beginning, they established friendships and became skillful players through experiences from the TBTE. Currently, the group has evolved primarily to include orchestra players, pro-wind band musicians, professors, and a college president. TBTE has also developed and help establish composers and arrangers. If someone has the motivation, a desire to learn new things, and doesn’t mind the hard work in practicing/performing, positives outcomes are inevitable!
Because of the activities of TBTE, we basically took on the functions of an association until JETA was established in 1985. But, I’m in no way comparative to the likes of Harvey Phillips, who I think is a BIG piece of Americana!
ITEC Mass Ensemble at the Congress Steps (1983)
During ITEC 1997, “Verso il Millennio,” in Riva del Garda, Italy, you gave a presentation entitled “Attivazione” per Eufonio e Tuba in Giappone,” in which you discussed many interesting aspects regarding our instruments in Japan, including great historical facts regarding wind band history in your country. In this lecture, you discuss the many visits by “western” artists, activities that you were often instrumental in coordinating (such as Harvey Phillips in 1979, Brian Bowman in 1984). Can you summarize or highlight some of your fondest memories from these tours?
Harvey Phillips, Miura, and Brian Bowman, visiting for the Japan Wind & Percussion Competition (1986)
Fortunately I could invite my teachers and friends to Japan who served as major influences for me during my time in the U.S. Of course, these visitations were often brought to realization through supreme cooperative efforts with many colleagues and organizations. Chitate Kagawa’s proposal instigated Harvey’s first visit in 1979, and we, his colleagues in Tokyo, cooperated. With Roger Bobo’s appearance on the stage of Tokyo Bari-Tuba Ensemble Concert in 1982, we borrowed him practically from the Los Angels Philharmonic’s Japan Tour. My friend Brian Bowman’s first visit to Japan in 1984 was the result of great collaboration with our colleagues from all over the country, and it was the most successful one in terms of such cooperation. Since then he has visited Japan 13 times! In addition, Ray Young visited twice (performing with the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and performing/adjudicating at the Japan Wind & Percussion Competition). Other highly influential visits included R. Winston Morris, Harvey Phillips (’86 for JWPC), Roger Bobo, Frederick Fennell and Don Hunsberger for TKWO or Kunitachi and so on.
Miura with Brian Bowman in 1973 at the First International Tuba Symposium
Also published in this issue of the Journal is a memorial tribute to American tubist Mark Wolfe, husband of noted American journalist Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, a former student of yours. Mrs. Heinkel-Wolfe authored an excellent article for the T.U.B.A. Journal entitled “Sensei,” describing cultural aspects of education in Japan and giving readers additional insight into your teaching. You noted differences between American and Japanese euphonium students in terms of performance experiences and styles, specifically sound concepts. Since this interview, with recordings, the Internet, and new generations having greater access to more resources, has these contrasts fused or changed in any capacity?
Just recently I spoke with Brian [Bowman] about such differences when he was with us for the Japan Wind & Percussion Competition last November. The different approaches towards sound results from the difference of the languages and also the physical build. Generally, although American euphonium players have a richer, bigger sound, it has a tendency to be “vague” in terms of clarity. In my mind, the Japanese approach tends to have greater clarity but less “size.”
Regarding musical expression, Americans play more large-scale but sometimes lack delicacy. Although Japanese performance is precise and sensitive, it is easy to fall into a smaller scale. Of course, these are prevalent amongst both regions. Environment, language, maybe even food, all of these aspects could serve as reasons. The music that students listened to is also a very important factor in these differences. Regarding differences of temperament, American students are precocious [in a positive way] and independent, which is very positive compared to Japanese students. However, Japanese students mature later since they spend much time preparing for the entrance examination into college.
Naturally it depends on each student. For example, I became aware of the differences between the students at USM and then later at Eastman. Such differences have led me to always require my students to realize the purpose behind what we are working towards. Meaning, I always help them focus on what the purpose of a competition is or what their practice should be geared towards? Why is the student going to be a professional musician? I always make sure we can confirm their motivations for becoming a musician! American students generally establish their individuality earlier than Japanese. On the other hand Japanese students always exude docility.
You are a student of the great American euphoniumist, educator, clinician, and conductor Raymond Young. He was an active euphonium artist and was equally noted in music education and conducting. Can you summarize some of your fondest memories from your studies with him?
My relationship with Mr. Young began in 1972 when I purchased his solo album LP record at the record shop in Ginza, Tokyo. I used to listen to it almost every night in my small apartment. Although I have three recordings of Leonard Falcone and also Fred Dart’s LP, Young’s sound and lyrical playing struck my heart deeply. Although there was less information than our present time, I was fortunate that Mr. Toshio Akiyama of the Sony Band gave me some information about Ray Young and the University of Southern Mississippi. By virtue of Mr. Akiyama I was able to come to the States and begin studies at USM in September 1971.
#16 Miura and Young at the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic (1971)
Many friends asked me why I went from the large city of Tokyo to the “deep,” southern part of the States. The reason was Ray Young and to learn from his great euphonium sound. At that time there were practically no professional euphonium teachers in Japan. So, staying would not present me this opportunity mentioned. The things I learned from Mr. Young’s lessons were concepts such as “sing through the euphonium!” and “what is the tone color of the euphonium.” With Mr. Young, I first studied from Rochut’s Melodious Etude Book (all three volumes), which I also introduced in Japan in the 1970s. I also learned various solo works with him.
Regarding tone color he often described the following, “The tone of the euphonium is just like velvet, very smooth and soft—and mysterious, a deep sorrowful lake!”
What poetic expression he used! Actually, he didn’t use words much, but he always played following my playing as he would say, “No, no, no, no!” He always played beautiful and perfect! I was charmed with his singing on euphonium! And, his single tonguing was very fast! It was almost the same as my triple tonguing then! It overwhelmed me in speed! Ray Young’s feature was his tone and sound, which can be described as “rich and dark.”
Miura, Raymond Young, and Brian at ITEC-Texas (1986)
My only complaint, I didn’t learn how to progress to his level of playing. At 23 years old Miura had suffered much and practiced day and night! One year later after coming to the States, Mr. Young moved on from USM to serve as head of the music department at the University of Louisiana Tech at Ruston. He promised to still teach me once a month, and I would drive my old, used Volkswagen five hours to Ruston, Louisiana. On Sunday morning I would wake early, then drive to Ruston for Mr. Young’s lesson.
Miura pictured with his 1971 VW Beetle
Several times I arrived at the music building early, and I would pick open the door lock with a wire hanger. Although I was aware this was illegal, I wanted to practice as much as possible! (Mr. Young didn’t blame me, he just laughed at me!) He treated me to lunch every time and never charged for these lessons! These were great memories for me. One year later, I had my graduate recital in Hattiesburg at USM. Mr. Young attended my recital and praised my playing! I just did my best. I have learned from Mr. Young the real euphonium sound and singing style through euphonium! I hope he is satisfied with my performance! He never said, “No, no, no, no!”
There is notable tuba-euphonium ensemble activity in Japan, or “family” ensembles as you have previously described them (such as the Nagoya Euphonium Tuba Ensemble, Fukuoka Bari-tuba Ensemble, and Osaka Bari-Tuba Ensemble). As founder of two such groups, the Tokyo Bari-Tuba Ensemble (est. 1979) and also The Euphonium Company, can you discuss your work with these ensembles?
ITEC Reception the Bowmans & TBTE (1983)
The official class for euphonium-tuba ensemble at Kunitachi College of Music was started in April 2007 (Japanese academic year begins in April). At last, our long activities were recognized as a class activity as opposed to a club activity at a music college in Japan.
Evolving for 32 years, the performance of the Tokyo Bari-Tuba Ensemble at my recital in 1976 triggered the euphonium-tuba ensemble into popularity. Especially important to the early growth was when I visited R. Winston Morris at Tennessee Tech, and he supplied a large amount of information and music in 1979. Since these early beginnings, our ensemble has continued to experience ever-growing popularity. All of the music institutes now have large euphonium-tuba ensembles and hold their own concerts regularly.
Through TBTE activities I found three important elements in the musical performance. First of all, in any musical organization, the most important thing is the musical work. Music comes first! These are not only works of art but also entertaining works which young people love. Sometimes TBTE has undertaken great challenges in performing technically and musically difficult works such as Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D Minor. This sort of programming serves as great stimulation and fun for the younger players helping to evoke great possibilities for their developments on our instruments.
The second is the instrument! Since there are two kinds of low brass instruments, everyone might think there are no choices for our instruments. TBTE members use E-flat, F, C and B-flat tubas. We also often use E-flat and B-flat baritone and tenor tuba. We cooperated with music industries to make better instruments. Regarding our mouthpieces, various kinds are on the market now, and there are some mouthpiece craftsmen in Japan who can make a high quality custom-made mouthpiece.
Winston Morris, Miura, and Robert Jager, visiting as part of Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra Concerts (1981)
The third is the musicians. Through TBTE activities, the members have a means for remaining “up to date” on our instruments. As a result, all members acquire skillful playing, great jobs, and/or opportunities to study abroad! That is to say, our continued communication is the best way to win! For members in orchestras or wind bands or students, what TBTE accomplished was integral.
The three important elements for musical performance—musical works, instruments, and musicians—are common to any field.
The legacy of The Euphonium Company was succeeded admirably by KCM students. Since the students are very flexible, they always try to imitate what they observe from recordings (DVDs or CDs) very carefully. At first I was thinking that this is not a bad idea to learn about music in this way. But, any plans without thinking have no future! And, therefore, I let my students think about why they are doing what they are doing. Why is the instrumentation for this group is limited to only euphoniums? Because, both euphonium-tuba ensemble and euphonium ensemble are not perfect enough as ensembles! Wisdom is needed for producing a successful musical fantasy for our kind of ensembles, the “family” ensemble. Without this wisdom we would not be able achieve full satisfaction from our audience!
In 1983 at the 2nd International Tuba Euphonium Conference held at the University of Maryland, TBTE had a special concert that received a great round of applause. At the front row of the hall, Maestro Fennell was present and gave us maximum applause and cheer. It was a hugely successful concert. Importantly, this happened in front of their colleagues! As otherwise members of orchestras and wind bands and working as euphonium and tuba freelancers, we now as members in these ensembles are able to expand our expression skill and cultivate our friendship and solidarity as family instruments!
Thereafter, members of TBTE and The Euphonium Company have furthered careers by releasing solo CDs, obtaining jobs in orchestras or wind bands, establishing professional brass bands, and some of them are college professors and administrators. Their participation through TBTE or The Euphonium Company was integral in their career advancement. Dreams came true! We all earn our living by playing the tuba or the euphonium!
You have commissioned some notable works for the euphonium, such as Nagano’s Matrix for Euphonium and Synthesizer Tape (commissioned for your guest artist appearance at the 1989 Leonard Falcone Euphonium Festival). Can your comment on your commissioning of music for euphonium, past and upcoming?
Briefly, here is a listing of works I have commissioned:
Fable for solo euphonium and solo percussion with wind ensemble by Soichi Konagaya
Pops Concerto for euphonium duo and wind ensemble by Soichi Konagaya
Day Dream for solo euphonium and solo vibraphone by Soichi Konagaya
Gradation for solo euphonium and piano by Yasuhide Ito
Fantasy Variations for solo euphonium and band by Yasuhide Ito [Studio Music]
Fantasy Variations for solo euphonium and piano by Yasuhide Ito [Studio Music]
Arban’s Carnival of Venice for solo euphonium and euphonium-tuba ensemble by Yasuhide Ito (versions also for band and piano accompaniment)
Fantasy for solo euphonium and piano by Hiroshi Hoshina (Tuba-Euphonium Press)
Music for solo euphonium and synthesizer by Ryuta Suzuki
Matrix for solo euphonium and synthesizer by Mitsuhiro Ngano
Music for solo euphonium and piano by Choji Kaneta
Five Esquisses for euphonium and marimba by Akira Miyoshi
There are more pieces that I have commissioned for the ensemble. I always think that we should not only play but also record and publish commissioned music. This is very important. I have a lot of memories about each work. At the first performance, the Konagaya’s Fable was still being written back stage right before I’m going onto stage! In the case of Ito’s Fantasy Variations, I received his music page by page via Fax at the hotels where I stayed in Hokkaido while on tour with the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, and the last page arrived only one week before the concert! I had to practice in a hurry! Miyoshi’s piece was very difficult for me rhythmically, and I had to do much work with a metronome! Among all of these, Yasuhide Ito’s Fantasy Variations is the one I have played the most. Since it is not only the wind band accompaniment, but with piano is available. And it was adopted as required music for both the Japan Wind & Percussion Competition and for the Leonard Falcone International Festival. Thus, many might know the piece. It is a very stately and melodic work, isn’t it?!
For the last portion of the question I would reply clearly with a YES! Serving also as the professor of the wind orchestra, I am the conductor in charge of programming for the concerts at the Kunitachi College of Music. In November, there will be a KCM Wind Ensemble concert featuring a commissioned euphonium concerto with wind ensemble, which will be premiered by Mitsuru Saito, past winner of both the Falcone and the Philip Jones competitions, and I will conduct it! Thus, I still have a lot of passion for new euphonium repertoire!
I’m sure this is a popular question and could warrant a lengthy response, as you are envied for your work as a solo euphoniumist with the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra under the direction of Frederick Fennell (1914–2004), one of the world’s most respected conductors. What influences did Maestro Fennell have on your musicianship? Do you have any specific memories from this collaboration?
Frederick Fennell and Miura (1984)
It is very difficult to express so briefly my experiences with and about Maestro Fennell. At the first T.U.B.A. Symposium, when I first met him, I asked him, “Are you Mr. Fennell, band director at the University of Miami?” And Maestro shouted at me, “No! I am Dr. Fennell, the conductor of the University of Miami Wind Ensemble!” Our first impression was not good!
The second time I met him was in March 1982 when he visited Tokyo for a TKWO concert. He was a different person with long hair and no mustache/beard! In 1983 at the second ITEC, we talked about TKWO and Tokyo life every night, and then he came to Tokyo as the principal conductor of the TKWO in January 1984. As many people know how unique his lifestyle was, I could easily write several books about Fennell’s time in Tokyo.
Fennell and Miura
In his unique life style, there was always an enormous passion for making music with us, and we also had a strong will to make even better music! One day, as I was hesitating to accept an invitation to attend a Brass Congress/ITEC, Maestro Fennell encouraged me saying, “Go, go!” He stated, “You should go there while you still can!”
Eastman Wind Ensemble 40th Anniversary (Roller, Fennell, Miura, and Hunsberger)
I had also asked him to conduct the TBTE, and he used to always attend The Euphonium Company concerts. When I invited Brian Bowman to Japan, Maestro Fennell came to our party for Brian and also made a great speech! Maestro helped me a lot with my English speech or narration on my recital at ITEC. He influenced me tremendously, especially with regards to musical expression and teaching technique. Probably, I very well could be the musician who received the most influence from Maestro Fennell in Japan! Certainly, he might be calling to me from heaven as I try to do my best! “That is the name of the game, Toru! Listen…kiite!” This is the most important thing for creating better ensemble! It is the fundamental rule!
Surely, one of the most special events for the tuba and euphonium in Japan was ITEC 1990 held in Sapporo, Japan and hosted by Chitate Kagawa. In your opinion, what impact did this event have for the tuba and euphonium in Japan?
The ITEC-Sapporo was conceived as part of the Hokkaido Euphonium Tuba Camp and held under the auspices of Hokkaido Euphonium Tuba Association and Sapporo City Government with collaboration by JETA. The Sapporo Conference left a good impression and memories for many people with wonderful works and performances by our colleagues from all over the world. The foundation of J.E.T.A. was in 1985. Hokkaido Euphonium Tuba Association was established in 1981 by Mr. Chitate Kagawa and has a longer history than J.E.T.A.
Fennell and Miura at Conductors Camp
J.E.T.A. held their first conference in 1974 and have had conferences since. How active is this organization, based in Tokyo, Japan, on a yearly-basis?
In September 1974, the Japan Euphonium Tuba Festival was held in Tokyo. Robert Tucci, who happened to be visiting Japan with his orchestra, was invited to the festival as a guest soloist, and several young musicians, who had just returned from abroad for study, appeared on stage as soloists, including Ikumi Tado from Germany, Chitate Kagawa, and myself from the U.S.A.
This event was promoted by several volunteers as well as tuba and euphonium players in Tokyo. However, it is not J.E.T.A. yet!
As Harvey Phillips and his colleagues experienced great difficulties in establishing T.U.B.A, we spent much time before we founded J.E.T.A. In fact, it was so difficult to enroll all of the tubists and euphoniumists into the association. In Japan, the group mainly consisted of people who had graduated from the same school or reside in the same region. The philosophy was to serve society and the public, however the “volunteer spirit” required for members is difficult to bear among tubists and euphoniumists in our country.
Peggy Heinkel Wolff, Miura, Jerry Young, and Fukaishi at ITEC-Texas (1986)
It is true that we needed to establish J.E.T.A. as a partnership for holding the euphonium and tuba divisions of the Japan Wind & Percussion Competition that started in 1986. In the same year the Japan Euphonium Tuba Congress was created as part of the band festival promoted by the TKWO, which I used to belong. We shared the TKWO’s band festival there, and we also announced the establishing of J.E.T.A. officially. As I mentioned earlier in our interview, although the Tokyo Bari-Tuba Ensemble was carrying out various rolls as an association for abroad and inland, we began to share these functions/activities with other people who were not members of the TBTE once J.E.T.A. was officially founded.
Peggy, Sam Pilafian and Miura in Tokyo (1985)
At the present, J.E.T.A. has few members and the annual Christmas Concert is their only promoted event. Other regional activity outside of Tokyo is ongoing! Again, Chitate Kagawa’s Camp resumed in Sapporo this year! The Osaka Bari-Tuba Ensemble has re-formed as the Kansai Eupho-Tuba Net Work so that they can communicate through their website. So no longer is there a need to have a party on the second floor of Sushi-Bar Restaurant!
In addition to the Net Work in Osaka, there are the Euphonium Soloists of Osaka, which has 23 years of history and has commissioned ten pieces to this date. The members are consists of euphoniumists from the Osaka Municipal Symphonic Band, the Ground Defense Force Bands, and also college teachers. They not only have their annual concert but promote their euphonium camp regularly.
Young, Bowman, Denis Winter, David Werden, Paul Droste, and Miura at ITEC-Texas (1986)
I now boost both the activities/philosophy of both J.E.T.A., which I founded, and the Net Work system for our youth! The most important thing is the result! Our tuba-euphonium world, a once small world is now much larger! However, it’s still not as big as the flute or clarinet though! It is impossible to assemble everyone into one place! I had started to have the euphonium camp at the Euphonium Lodge 15 years ago. Osaka colleagues also have their own camp as well as Hokkaido, which again has a long history. Thus, this is a summary of our current situation, it might not be the same as that States, but it is prosperous!
What areas of development would you like to see greater attention to in the future?
Many of our colleagues have devoted strongly to our development. Hereafter it is so necessary to continue commissioning new compositions. Recently I attended a special concert at Hamamatsu, a well-known music industry city. The concert was promoted by seven composers who have never written music for wind band. The title of this event was Wind Band Restoration! It was very unique and a special concert. The music I heard at the concert was real music! Without prejudice we must find composers who can write real music for our instruments!
Bobo and Miura at Riva del Garda (1997)
Since the Symposium in 1973, our instruments have been progressing. Though, it is a pity that we have been loosing something special and unique with the ongoing efforts of unifying one instrument design. As well as new works, we need to continue to promote varying instruments each possessing a distinctive function and flavor.
There are a strong number of young euphonium artists who are very active throughout the world. What advice do you have for them as well the future generations of professional euphonium players?
In Tokyo, there is euphonium-division and tuba-division of the Japan Wind & Percussion Competition held every three years. Last November those divisions were held with 150 contestants for euphonium and 130 contestants for tuba. I indeed felt that the tone-producing ability of the contestants has progressed a lot. (I am glad to hear the results of my promoting the use of the Emory Remington’s Warm Up Studies for so many years.) But, on the other hand, I was surprised to listen and observe many “childish” performances by contestants, and I wondered if they had listened to only euphonium CDs! Maybe their teachers taught them with playing only as opposed to teaching them to interpret and portray the music! It is very important for music students to learn how they can express the music and not just play the notes!
Miura and Saito at frozen Lake Michigan
I always tell my students that you can be a better musician with the number of different performances you study! I most often suggest that they listen to music other than euphonium! Only occasionally do I advise them to listen to someone’s euphonium CD too! Listening to a singer or other instrumentalist play music is very important to improve one’s musical expression and playing ability. My teacher, Ray Young used to advise me to listen to vocal music more than instruments. And I advise my students to read music very carefully, not only the solo part but also the piano or orchestra (band) score. To learn the function of the entire piece creates the ability to listen in ensemble! Then, young euphonium players can produce tone and sound easily and beautifully. To achieve beautiful playing they need to learn to read music well, listen carefully, think and play, and play from their heart (communicate with the audience through performance).
Mead and Miura at Riva (1997)
Once again, congratulations on your receiving the ITEA Lifetime Achievement Award. And, many thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this article for the ITEA Journal.
I want to thank the ITEA Executive Committee who gave me this great opportunity to introduce a part of my life in honor of the Lifetime Achievement Award. I was brought up with great influence from my parents who used to teach me, “give joy and benefit to others,” which is the reason why we live.
I graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts as a baritone major. At present, everyone calls our instrument the euphonium. In May 1973, my friend Brian Brown appealed to establish the identity of our instrument in the panel discussion, “You Play What?” I simply have been doing my best to evoke this appeal doing the things that I love!
Toru and Brian at ITEC-Minneapolis (1998)
And I want to thank the people who have given their cooperation on behalf of our activity, our movements for raising the popularity, increasing the function, and for increasing the number of colleagues on our instrument. I often travel to southeastern Asian countries for teaching young students. How important this proves to be for their fundamental playing! My personal experience benefits them. First, I always make sure not to impede a student’s love or playing of music. Then, I inspire them to practice! It is a great pleasure for me to visit and exchange our friendship! Just recently, I took all Kunitachi wind & percussion teachers to Singapore for a workshop last September, and I also took the Kunitachi Wind Ensemble to Taiwan for concerts last December. The National Taiwan Normal University Band will visit Tokyo for an exchange this September. The U.S. Coast Guard Band will visit Tokyo for the first time, and we will have a good-will concert at our campus in December.
For the rest of my life, I will continue offering my contributions to society, and I will continue my activity as an international liaison for our instrument and music! I would like to say “arigato”(thanks) to my wife, Chieko, and my son, Hisaki! Because of their true love for me, I am able to do my best with those things that I love!
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