A SHAPE OF TIME - the composer Jo Kondo
Born in Tokyo in 1947, Jo Kondo graduated from the composition department of Tokyo University of Arts in 1972. He spent a year in New York on a scholarship from the John D. Rockefeller III Fund in 1977-78. In 1979 he taught as guest lecturer at University of Victoria, British Columbia, invited by the Canada Council, and in 1986 resided in London as a British Council Senior Fellow. In 1987 he was composer in residence at Hartt School of Music, Hartford, Connecticut, USA, and taught at Dartington International Summer School in England. In 2015 he was Howard Hanson Visiting Professors at Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York, USA. He is Professor Emeritus of Music at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo, and Visiting Professor at Showa University of Music, Kawasaki, Japan.
In January 2012 Jo Kondo was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. At the ceremony he was hailed as one of Japan's most distinguished composers and his distinct style of composition was described thus: “His music is characterised by a unique personality which synthesizes Japanese aesthetic sensibility and western harmonic structure. Perhaps there are echoes of Morton Feldman, the great American composer, but Kondo's music inhabits a far larger universe, at once serene and dynamic, at once contemplative and energetic.”
Kondo founded in 1980 the Musica Practica Ensemble, a chamber orchestra devoted to contemporary music, and was artistic director of the group until its disbandment in 1991. He has written more than 140 compositions, most of them published from UYMP (York University Music Press) in UK, and some from C.F. Peters, New York. His works ranging from solo pieces to orchestral and opera, as well as electronic works, have been widely performed in Japan, North America and Europe and recorded on Hat Art, ALM, Fontec, Deutsche Grammophon and other labels. He has received commissions from numerous organisations, and his music has been featured at many international music festivals, including Festival d'automne (Paris), Almeida Festival (London), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK), Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival (USA), etc. Kondo has also written extensively on musical matters, and since 1979 he has published five books spelling out in detail his own aesthetic and compositional ideas.