Akari Komura (b.1996) is a Japanese composer-vocalist. She grew up in Tokyo and spent her teenage years in Jakarta, Indonesia. From an early age, Akari has been involved in performing arts through playing the piano, singing, and dancing modern ballet.
Her interest in somatic practice and embodied consciousness is central to her creative process. Akari imagines her score as an invitation for the performers to contemplatively engage with listening and soundmaking. She is interested in curating a participatory performance space that invites a community of performers and audience for a collective and ritualistic act of listening and soundmaking. Akari’s artistic exploration is oriented towards heightening awareness and transforming our perception of the sonic environment. The works of Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, and Hildegard Westerkamp are especially influential to her creative process.
Her breadth of work spans chamber ensemble, multimedia electronics, and interdisciplinary collaborations with dancers, visual artists, and architects. The integration of visual-text elements has been important for her to cultivate a multi-sensorial experience with sound.
Akari’s works have been presented at the Atlantic Music Festival, Composers Conference, International Composition Institute of Thailand, New Music Gathering, Nief-Norf, MATA Festival, Montreal Contemporary Music Lab (Canada), Penn State New Music Festival, soundSCAPE (Italy), soundpedro, and VU Symposium.
Recent highlights include receiving a commission by the Kinds of Kings as a 2020 Bouman Composer Fellow and premiered by the Rubiks Collective. In 2023 spring, Akari was selected by American Composers Orchestra EarShot Reading to work with The Next Festival of Emerging Artists on a new string orchestra piece, Inhabited by air.
Akari holds an M.M. in Composition from the University of Michigan (recipient of the EXCEL Enterprise Fund and Sonic Scenographies Research Grant) and a B.A. in Vocal Arts from the University of California, Irvine. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Composition at the University of California San Diego.
What compels me to compose is the potential to create performance spaces that cultivate perceptual transformation. As a composer, I am coming to realize the significance of listening and raising our aural awareness to understand our sonic environments. The soundscapes may encompass all aspects of animate communities including the local landscape, deep earth, the biosphere, the moon, and the cosmos. I meditate on performance as an embodiment of such animate beings which are interconnected with each other on physical and metaphysical levels. For performers and audiences alike, I think this embodied enactment of our habitat can be a powerful medium to foster a sustainable, reciprocal, and harmonious relationship between the human and non-human species. Moreover, I contemplate performance spaces to enrich directness in perception. When we engage in spatial and temporal dimensions of music and let it soak in without thinking about its meaning, it requires us to let go of any filter for analysis or interpretation. In such moments, we recognize the power of music to liberate ourselves to experience whatever emotions surge naturally. I think this impulsive surge of emotion has a transformative power to energize our inspiration and life force.
I believe that what we experience in our daily life takes place beyond our physical bodies and in other energetic dimensions at the same time. During my compositional process, I visualize the physical and mental states of the players along with the resulting sound production. I think about the conscious enactment of sound by inviting the performers to experience subtlety, intimacy, and vulnerability. While the term, virtuosic, commonly implies technical excellence with rapidity and emphasizes physical impression, I am interested in expanding the vocabulary of virtuosic performance by integrating a more internal and mindful perception. When such multidimensional qualities are perceived as a collective experience by both performers and listeners, I recognize the possibilities of nurturing alignment and restoration of our bodies and mind. The integration of non-conventional notation and improvisation is inherent in my approach to cultivating instinctive embodied expressions through sounds. The scores I write often emerge in a combination of text prompts, images, and sometimes mail-art, supported by conventional music notations so that they function as invitations for musicians to interpret, play, and listen.
I am also fascinated by the impermanent character of performance because it connects to the cultural values of my own experience growing up in Japan. As a part of wabi-sabi philosophy, I have come to value imperfection in the fleeting nature of life and objects. As I have reflected on my personal identity as a Japanese woman immersed in Western culture, finding this connection to the impermanent nature of sound, which vanishes after it vibrates in the air, inspires me to keep contributing as an individual artist.