Ryuichi Sakamoto

associate artist Holland Festival 2021

Ryuichi Sakamoto (1952, Tokyo) has lived many musical lives in his nearly 70 years. As a keyboardist and songwriter in Haruomi Hosono’s Yellow Magic Orchestra, he helped set the stage for technopop. 

Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence_200x200His solo experiments in fusing global genres and close studies of classical impressionism led to him scoring nearly forty films in as many years, including Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1983), Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1987), The Sheltering Sky (1990), and the Academy Award-winning film The Revenant (2015) by Alejandro González Iñárritu.  

In the past 20 years alone, he’s written a multimedia opera, turned a glass building into an instrument, and travelled to the Arctic to record the sound of melting snow. That exploratory spirit runs through Sakamoto’s 2017 album, async, which paints an audio portrait of the passing of time informed by his recovery from throat cancer. ‘Music, work, and life all have a beginning and an ending,’ said Sakamoto in early 2019. ‘What I want to make now is music freed from the constraints of time.’ 

Since the mid-nineties, Sakamoto has devoted much of his time to environmental and pacifist causes, which is also reflected in his work, as in the opera LIFE (1999). He has launched charitable organisations and beginning in 2012, organised the yearly ongoing music event NO NUKES, which many well-known artists, including Kraftwerk, took part in to protest nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster. 

His accolades include an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, a Grammy, the Order of the Cavaleiro Admissão from the Brazilian government and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government. Sakamoto was featured with Alva Noto at the 2006 Holland Festival with insen

Sakamoto is collaborating with the multi-disciplinary artist Shiro Takatani on Time, an unconventional opera which is also a coproduction with the Holland Festival.