Asian News 3/2

Classical China

China may be classical music’s last hope for the future, Lorin Maazel, music director of the New York Philharmonic, stated during a February 23 press conference at the new National Grand Theatre in Beijing.

"We need defenders of our tradition of classical music if classical music is to survive," he told reporters. "It could very well be that one of the most important defenders of classical music will be found in the country of China."

He complimented his Chinese hosts on "their passion and very, very high sense of aesthetics" and added that the country’s artistic environment was the perfect "spawning ground" for promoting interest in classical music.

With its huge population and burgeoning interest in all things Western, China, in fact, may help keep classical music vital as it loses popularity in the West.

The New York Philharmonic was about to play two concerts at the futuristic-looking hall, which is egg-shaped and covered in titanium and glass.

The orchestra’s Asian tour also took them to North Korea.


Pharrell Scouts In Tokyo

Pharrell Williams came to Tokyo February 18 to take part in auditions for promising Japanese R&B singers.

Williams is working with his usual Japanese music and fashion gear partner, Nigo, on "Star Bape Search." Bape is the shortened term for Nigo’s hugely successful hip-hop clothing line, A Bathing Ape. Amateur singers between the ages of 15 and 26 can audition for the two producers.

There will be three rounds and the final decision will be announced in June. The winner will then make a single with Williams and Nigo to be released before the end of the year.


Yoshida Extends Comeback

Takuro Yoshida, often referred to as Japan’s answer to Bob Dylan, is expanding his comeback after recovering from lung cancer four years ago.

The 61-year-old singer/songwriter announced during a February 24 radio interview that he plans to assemble a new band of Western musicians and perform an "all-English" R&B show sometime this summer in Tokyo.

"I want to do one live show in Tokyo that’s just R&B songs from the ’50s and ’60s," he said. He has yet to pick out the venue, but said that he envisions an audience of about 200 or 300 people.

Given the fact that Yoshida attracted about 35,000 fans to a comeback concert in 2006, it shouldn’t be a problem getting a few hundred to show up.