Okinawa-Asia Music Network Meeting 2015

The first Okinawa-Asia Music Network Meeting was held at Tenbusu Hall in Naha yesterday. The first part of the meeting was a briefing session in which last year’s presentation of ‘Music from Okinawa’ at WOMEX (World Music Expo) in Spain was reported on and discussed. The duo Sakishima Meeting who performed a showcase in Spain also talked about their experiences at the event. There was a speech from London-based arts manager and producer Akiko Yanagisawa who focused on ways to promote Okinawan music overseas.

This theme was taken up again in the second half which featured a discussion with three guests from South Korea and China who are all involved in the organisation of world music festivals in their own countries. There was also live music with a short performance by Kazutoshi Matsuda who was one of the artists featured on the Music from Okinawa CD presented at WOMEX last year. Some of the other artists from the CD were also at the meeting. I managed to talk with Isamu Shimoji of Sakishima Meeting during a break in the proceedings before he and Yukito Ara hastened to another venue in Naha where they were scheduled to give a live show later in the day.

okinawa-asia

Some of the discussion at the meeting focused on the business side of promoting Okinawan music overseas; on the possibility of further participation at WOMEX events; and the desirability for Okinawa to host its own world music festival in order to become a hub for networking and spreading Okinawan music to the rest of Asia and the world. I was impressed by the talk given by Wei Gao from China who is an organiser of the annual Sound of the Xity festival in Beijing which is committed to the joint development of the Chinese and Western music industries.

Even more interesting was the presentation by Kim Min of Sonic Islands who talked about her work in organising the Ulsan World Music Festival in Korea. In her concluding remarks she made the important point that traditional music is something that needs to be constantly revitalised or else it just becomes like an exhibit in a museum. On the other hand, she stressed that it is equally important not to slavishly copy the big stars seen on television but to find one’s own musical identity sincerely. She also made the observation that WOMEX itself should not necessarily be held in such great awe and is just one method of networking.

Sakishima Meeting: Isamu Shimoji & Yukito Ara

Sakishima Meeting: Isamu Shimoji & Yukito Ara

Some of those who participated by asking questions seemed unaware that Okinawan music is really not such a big secret nowadays. In fact, it has been featured regularly for many years in magazines such as the UK’s fRoots and Songlines and has loyal followings in many parts of the world. With the growth of the internet and new ways of listening to music it has now become more accessible than ever. It could be argued that even the term ‘world music’ is becoming obsolete and has already served its purpose as a marketing tool for what fRoots calls ‘local music from out there’.

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One Comment on “Okinawa-Asia Music Network Meeting 2015”

  1. Izumi Nishi Says:

    I knew nothing about this meeting. Thanks for the info, John.


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