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Animating the new year with movie music

JOE Hisaishi composes the magical music for Hayao Miyazaki's magical animated films and next week the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra will present a concert of his theme music, writes Zhang Qian.

Hayao Miyazaki's animated films sweep us away, not only with their marvelous stories and images, but also, and especially, their music.

That music, composed by Joe Hisaishi, helped animate those films and keeps them alive in our memories.

A concert of Hisaishi's works will be performed next Thursday and Friday by the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center. The music from eight films will be performed - and famous scenes from the movies will be screened at the same time.

Hisaishi will not be present.

Director Miyazaki, though successful in Japan and across Asia, was largely unknown in the West until Miramax released his "Princess Monoke" (1997). His film "Spirited Away" (2001) was an international sensation and won an Oscar and a Golden Bear.

His films feature recurrent themes, such as man's relationship to nature and technology and the difficulty of maintaining a pacifist ethic. Protagonists are often strong, independent girls and young women; the villains, when present, are often morally ambiguous characters with redeeming qualities.

Hisaishi is a composer and director known for more than 100 film scores and albums since 1981. His music is stylistically distinct, exploring and incorporating different genres, including minimalism, experimental electronic, European classical and Japanese classical.

He is best known for his work with animator Miyazaki. The two masters first cooperated in 1983 when Hisaishi composed the score for "Valley of the Wind."

Their other collaboration includes "The Castle in the Sky" (1986), "Kiki's Delivery Service" (1989), "Princess Monoke" (1997), "Spirited Away" (2001) and "Howl's Moving Castle" (2004). Parts of these scores will be performed at the Shanghai concert.

Hisaishi seeks the best music to express the plot. He used Irish folk songs in "The Castle in the Sky," American country music in "Kiki's Delivery Service" and traditional Japanese music in "Princess Monoke." He creates dreamlike feelings, leaving rooms for the audience to imagine, which is similar to Miyazaki's way of creating animation.

"I hope that I can always keep my childlike side, and always remain curious about life," the composer once said.

In the concert, 80 musicians will performed the music as a complete symphonic suite for each film.

The concert will also feature an accordion solo in "The Cat Returns" and "Howl's Moving Castle."

Date: January 29-30, 7:30pm

Venue: Concert Hall of Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 120-880 yuan

Tel: 6217-2426, 6217-3055


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