Ryuichi Sakamoto to Receive Berkeley Japan Prize

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BERKELEY — The Center for Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley announced that Ryuichi Sakamoto, internationally acclaimed musician, composer, producer and activist, has been selected as the winner of the third Berkeley Japan Prize.

The center will host an invitation-only award ceremony on the UC Berkeley campus.

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Sakamoto’s visit to Berkeley includes a Composer’s Colloquium and an Eco-Activism Panel at which he will be present for comments and questions. He will also perform a solo piano concert at UC Berkeley’s Hertz Concert Hall from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9. The concert will be followed by a conversation with composer/vocalist Ken Ueno, an associate professor at the UCB Department of Music.

Sakamoto began his career in 1978 as a founding member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, and emerged as a pioneer in electronic music. He began acting and composing for film with “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” (1983), directed by Nagisa Oshima.

His score for “The Last Emperor” (1987) won him an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for best original score, and a Grammy Award for best score soundtrack album for a motion picture, television or other visual media.

His score for “The Sheltering Sky” (1990) won him his second Golden Globe, and his score for “Little Buddha” (1993) received another Grammy nomination.

The Berkeley Japan Prize, established in 2008, is a lifetime achievement award from the Center for Japanese Studies to an individual who has made significant contributions in furthering the understanding of Japan on the global stage. Sakamoto’s visionary and genre-defying work as a musician, with his dozens of film scores, pop music, classical music as well as experimental glitch, has demonstrated universal appeal beyond Japan.

His collaborations have included some of the biggest musical stars in the world, such as Michael Jackson, and prominent cultural figures, such as the Dalai Lama. He helped to shape musical thinking in the incorporation of electronic instruments. Sakamoto has also been an outspoken advocate of eco-activism.

Among his film scores are those for “Original Child Bomb: Meditations on the Nuclear Age” (2004), a short film about the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and “Alexei and the Spring,” a documentary about a Belarus village 180 kilometers downwind of Chernobyl. After the Fukushima nuclear accident, he organized the No Nukes 2012 Concert in Chiba.

The first two Berkeley Japan Prizes were awarded to Haruki Murakami, the renowned novelist, in 2008, and Hayao Miyazaki, the acclaimed filmmaker, in 2009.

Concert tickets are $30 general, $10 for students (present IDs at the door). Buy tickets online or by calling Cal Performances at (510) 642-9988, or in person at Zellerbach Hall.

The Composer’s Colloquium, to be held Friday, Feb. 8, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Elkus Room 125 at Morrison Hall, is only open to members of the Music Department.

The Eco-Activism Symposium, which will be held Feb. 9 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the Toll Room at Alumni House, is free and open to the public. A panel of prominent scholars and activists will be followed by remarks from Sakamoto.

For more information, email cjs-events@berkeley.edu or call (510) 642-3156.

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