Born in Tokyo, Takehisa Kosugi is one of the true pioneers of Japanese avant-garde music-making. Under the spell of New York School composers such as John Cage and Morton Feldman, Kosugi co-founded the Group Ongaku with Toshi Ichiyanagi, Yasuhisa Tone, Akimichi Takeda, Mieko Shiomi, Yuji Takahashi, and Nobutaka Mizuno. On September 15, 1961, the Group Ongaku gave its first performance in Tokyo, generally regarded as the first public performanceRead more of avant-garde music in Japan. Over the succeeding months, Group Ongaku gave the Japanese premieres of works by Cage, Feldman, Earle Brown, Christian Wolff, and others. Kosugi took his degree in musicology from the Tokyo University of the Arts in 1962, and also wrote the soundtrack music to Takahiko Iimura's experimental 8mm film Junk. That year, the Group Ongaku disbanded, and Kosugi formed a new ensemble under the name New Direction. New Direction toured Europe in 1963 and was discovered by the members of Fluxus group led by George Maciunas, who persuaded Kosugi and the others to join the Fluxus case, creating the so-called Tokyo Fluxus group. A number of the events that Kosugi created for Fluxus are still considered key works within the original Fluxus catalogs of 1964-1965.
Kosugi began to incorporate elements of sonic installation and audience interactivity into his work as early as 1965 with the "Cross-Talk Intermedia" event Kosugi co-organized in conjunction with the Tokyo Olympiad. In 1969 Kosugi started a new group, the Taj Mahal Travellers, whose membership and sound represented an early attempt at musical multiculturalism. The Taj Mahal Travellers indeed traveled the world and recorded for Sony, Radio Bremen, and others and even appeared on European television. In 1977 Kosugi accepted an invitation to relocate to New York and join the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as a composer-in-residence, and he was promoted to musical director in 1995. Kosugi spends roughly six months each year in New York, and the other half in Japan. He has contributed to numerous tributes to his idol John Cage and has collaborated with David Tudor, Peter Kowald, Steve Lacy, and the New York rock group Sonic Youth, among others. Kosugi's work blends disparate musical genres and endeavors including avant-garde classical composition, free jazz, world music, and multimedia. But Kosugi is clearly comfortable in all of these endeavors. Read less