Born in Hokkaido, Japan in 1981, Japanese-American composer/conductor Yoshiaki Onishi is currently a Teaching Fellow at Columbia University. As a composer, he has worked on commissions that have come from such festivals as Takefu International Music Festival, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, as well as performing organizations such as Ensemble Intercontemporain. He won the Gaudeamus Prize in 2011. His works are published by Edition Gravis in Berlin, Germany. As a conductor, he has conducted Nieuw Ensemble (Amsterdam), and ECCE (Boston/New York) among others. Yoshiaki Onishi lives in New York.
In this article, centered on my work Tramespace I (2012–13), I elaborate on my thoughts about music from philosophical and musical perspectives. Behind my perspectives is the idea of a “metaphysical space in music composition” that acts as an anchor for these ideas. This “metaphysical space” is a major concept in my doctoral dissertation at Columbia University. However, throughout this lecture I do not refer explicitly to this concept. Instead, two consequential aspects of this metaphysical space are emphasized throughout: (1) the act of composition is not just an act of writing and expressing but also, as soon as the writing takes place, one must engage him/herself in the act of listening; and (2) because of (1), the aspect of the “self” that is engaging-in-(1) is illuminated. Which leads to the existential question: “who am I (who composes)?”