Composer Joe Hisaishi should be gearing up for a series of concerts in Sweden right about now. But, as we’re all aware, we now live in “aratana nichijō” — a new normal.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the only travel the 69-year-old Hisaishi has been doing is within his neighborhood. During his daily walks, he wears a face mask for protection against a mysterious, deadly disease — not unlike the titular protagonist of “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” the 1984 animated classic that paired Hisaishi with director Hayao Miyazaki for the first time.
Hisaishi, who was born Mamoru Fujisawa but adopted his professional name some 40 years ago, went on to write the music for every subsequent film by the famed anime director. His long creative partnership with Miyazaki (and another, in parallel, with live-action director Takeshi Kitano) served to launch Hisaishi and his music to fame. Even for those who have never seen the films to which the soundtracks belong, Hisaishi’s music can evoke a sense of nostalgia. Or, as a YouTube comment on a Hisaishi song put it: “This brings back memories I didn’t experience.”
Over the past few years, when such things were still possible, Hisaishi brought those memories to fans abroad with a series of concerts called “Joe Hisaishi Symphonic Concert: Music from the Studio Ghibli Films of Hayao Miyazaki.”
“I’ve largely focused on Japan my whole career, so I was interested to see how my music would be received by people of different backgrounds, religions and cultures,” says Hisaishi from his home in Tokyo via Skype. “They accepted it warmly, so I was very happy.”