Born to a musical family, Ken Ito was acknowledged first as composer early in his career. During his twenties he was commissioned pieces by most of Japanese orchestra, prominent soloists and foundations. Ken-ITO had studied composition under Teizo MATSUMURA and conducting under Tsunesada TACHIBANA as private student. Later he joined to Leonard BERNSTEIN’s conducting class at Pacific Music Festival, and Pierre BOULEZ’s at Lucern Festival Academy.
His music is full of wit and song of humanity, but his basis in music is quite steadfast and scientific. In general education, he majored physical science at the University of Tokyo. Those days, on one hand he organized lecture concert series and invited Luigi NONO, Italian composer, Joji YUASA, Japanese composer and many other important musicians to the University of Tokyo. On the other hand, he got B.A. in particle physics and M.A. in superconductivity.
During his twenties, he got most Japanese major music prizes as student of physics, and was quite active in modern music field. However, at the same time, after widely acknowledged as the most promised composer, he continued assistant conductor in opera. As a young opera staff he was greatly trusted by singers and players.
As composer, he got “Metropolitan Prize” with his piano concerto “Cosmostrophe” judged by György LIGETI, “Takemitsu Award” with his orchestral work “Dinamorphia” judged by Luciano BERIO. As conductor he lead a number of world first performances in wide spectrum of music, from the most complex Yoritsune MATSUDAIRA’s opera “Le dit de GENJI” up to totally anarchy John CAGE’s posthumous work “OCEAN” with Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
During 1990’s he was also popular as music director of weekly TV show for symphonic orchestra. He had directed more than hundred music program filming.
On the advice by Ligeti he began brain-cognitive studies of music, received a Ph.D in his field of study, and was appointed professor of composition and conducting at the University of Tokyo when only 33 years old. He is regarded one of the most important Japanese composer after the generation of Toru Takemitsu.
As professor of composition and conducting, from 2004 he started study of conducting method, with advices of BOULEZ and Peter ETÖVÖS, on the basis of medical science and anatomy, and complete method of conducting after BOULEZ.
In 2007 he also stated musical sound study in three-dimensional space (Raummusik) with the composer Karlheinz STOCKHAUSEN. After the sudden passing away of STOCKHAUSEN in 2007, Ken Ito had established “RAUMMUSIK KOLLEGIUM BERLIN” and continued fundamental study for performance and composition in real three dimensional space of opera theater and concert hall.
Beside busy days in conducting and professorship, Ken Ito is composing a series of operas based on “The Shining River --- after FUKUSHIMA atomic power accident” as a work in progress.
He conducts opera and orchestra incredibly vivid, just as if the whole theater a music instrument. With fine musical wit, he pays attention to every detail. With the tiniest change in standing position or singing direction, the total performance would move the whole audience deeply. Bold changes as composer-conductor, including stage arrangement based on clear basis, promises astonishing success on his every performance.
In 2009 Ken Ito and the “RAUMMUSIK KOLLEGIUM BERLIN” had started quest for Richard WAGNER’s original sound in theater space, first with Wolfgang WAGNER’s advice. Richard WAGNER had written detailed stage arrangement, especially singing position and altitude, in dramatic footnotes. These days, however, they are usually forgotten or neglected. Ken Ito had found vast amount of musical hints from WAGNER’s original score, and is now leading project “DAS MONUMENT BAYREUTH”, realizing the “Space-Time”(“Raum-Zeit”) Richard Wagner truly wished, in collaboration with BAYREUTHER FESTSPIELHAUS and NEW NATIONAL THEATER TOKYO. His conducting “Tristan und Isolde” was a smash hit in Tokyo music scene. From 2014 he starts the same approach on VERDI’s operas, over those Giullio RICORDI and Arrigo BOITO had written fine documents.
Once experienced his music, the fresh surprise would last long, and beautiful memory would remain forever.