Kaoru Wada


Composer, Arranger, Producer

Kaoru Wada is active in a wide range of musical fields, including anime, film, television, theatre and events, and has been involved in the musical side of well-known anime.

He was born in 1962 in Shimonoseki city, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. From the age of 17, he taught himself composition, harmony and other music fundamentals.

In 1981, Wada entered the Tokyo College of Music, Composition Department. He studied composition from each of the following masters: Akira Ifukube. He also studied conducting under maestro Yasuhiko Shiozawa. While at the College, he won the 30th Anniversary Memorial Competition of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Band of Tokyo, as well as the Japan Symphony Foundation Award. His work, “Dozokuteki-Bukyoku [Folkloric Dance Music] for Symphonic Wind Ensemble,” was selected as Theme Composition [Subject Work] of the All Japan Band Contest in 1984.

After graduating from the Tokyo College of Music, Wada resided in Europe. There he observed the activities and operations of the orchestras of several nations, chiefly in Amsterdam. In 1986, his “Three Fragments for Orchestra” was debuted by the North Holland Philharmonic Orchestra (Noordhollands Philharmonisch Orkest), and was an enormous success. The following year, the work was performed again at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, as a piece on the Program of the Regular Season [Annual] Concert of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra (Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest;
formerly, the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra).

In 1987, Wada’s work, “Aikake [Discourse] for Flute, Harp and Percussion,” won an award in the International Contemporary Music Composer Competition in New York City. In 1988, the premier of “Folkloric Dance Suite for Orchestra” was performed in Sweden, by the Malmö Symphony Orchestra (MSO). The work was performed again thereafter in many countries, including in the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Norway, the United States, and Japan. The work was released worldwide in 1990 on the Grammaphone Bis label.

Following his return to Japan, Wada was in charge of film music and accompanying music for animations (Japanese cartoons), including “Inuyasha,” as well as for movies, television, video, CD, dramas, and the stage. In 1995, his music for the Shochiku film, “Crest of Betrayal,” was awarded a Japan Academy Prize. He has also served as an arranger for several television music programs, including “The Untitled Concert” of TV-Asahi, and “Meikyoku Album” and “Minna-no-Dowa” of NHK. He has also been responsible for the arrangement of the works of artists such as Yoshikazu Mera, Sojiro, and Eitetsu Hayashi.

Along with these numerous activities, Wada has also published many works for Japanese indigenous instruments, plus works that use Japanese folklore and folksongs as motifs. He has published numerous works commissioned from Japan and abroad, including from the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gunma Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and several others. In November 2003, he conducted his first concert dedicated solely to his own works, “The World of Kaoru Wada” in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, with joint sponsorship by the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra.

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