Ryuichi Sakamoto (1952-2023) was arguably the best-known and most successful Japanese musician in the world. Even a casual glance through his portfolio satisfies the question of his iconic status in contemporary music, popular music and film composition. His Oscar for the soundtrack to Bernardo Bertolucci’s, The Last Emperor is certainly the most obvious laurel among a collection of several Golden Globes and Grammys for other films.

His score for the 1992 Olympic Games opening ceremony in Barcelona was viewed by over a billion people around the world. Westerners gravitated to his unique style and aesthetic, thus his association with luminaries of the music world such as Thomas Dolby, Brian Wilson and Laurie Anderson.

The musicians of Bang on a Can All Stars have long adored Sakamoto’s work and in the 1996 project, they carefully transcribe and recreate the same names original recording for live performance, much of it for the first time, as they did previously with Brian Eno’s Music for Airports. The album 1996 includes an incredible selection of tracks, many of Sakamoto’s most well known.

Bang on a Can All-Stars playing 1996 is an exploration, a tribute and a celebration of one of the most influential contemporary musicians of his time.

Embedded within the recording of 1996, Sakamoto included several excerpts from his most treasured film scores, commissioned by many of the 20th century’s leading film directors, thus the reverence for the work
among many film buffs:

“Rain – The Last Emperor”
Director, Bernardo Bertolucci
“Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence”
Director , Nagisa Oshima
“The Sheltering Sky”
Director , Bernardo Bertolucci
“High Heels (Main Theme)”
Director, Pedro Almodóvar
“Wuthering Heights”
Director, Peter Kosminsky
“Acceptance – Little Buddah”
Director , Bernardo Bertolucci

“There’s a solidity to Bang on a Can.”

– Classical Voice

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