Music August 2013

The Prodigy Daughter

Bicultural violin star to showcase new sound and album at British Business Awards

Members of the BCCJ attending the annual British Business Awards on 1 November can expect an evening of humour, awards, as well as excellent food and drink. But the highlight is expected to be Diana Yukawa.

The chamber has arranged for the 27-year-old Anglo-Japanese violin prodigy to perform during the evening, when she plans to play her latest works.

“It will be a real pleasure to perform at the event and it is a great excuse to go back to Japan”, Yukawa told BCCJ ACUMEN from her home in London. “I always love being in Japan; it’s like going back to my other home. It has been a while since I was last [in Japan], so it will be wonderful to be back and be a part of the awards.

“Later this year, I’ll be releasing an EP in Japan, Finding the Parallel, which is very different to anything I’ve done before. I can’t wait to perform the new sound I have been working on and, hopefully, people will like it”.

Yukawa has been working on a new project with John Foxx, the former front man of British new wave band Ultravox, and experimental electronic musician Benge. The shift in direction comes after huge acclaim for her first three albums including, when she was only 15 years old, her 2000 debut, La Campanella, which was an immediate best seller.

Concerto again featured classical pieces, but 2009’s The Butterfly Effect is a clear expression of her original sound and demonstrates that the young musician wasn’t afraid to experiment.

“[Finding the Parallel] is a very new sound that has moved on a lot since The Butterfly Effect album, so expect the unexpected”, she explained, refusing to be drawn further on details of the project.

It has been a hectic 18 months for Yukawa, who created her own label—Longbody Music, named in honour of her pet dachshund—to release her EP in the UK and Europe independently.

Another highlight was collaborating with the “extremely talented” British musician, producer and composer Nitin Sawhney on a piece of music for his BBC Radio 2 show that went on to be included in BBC Radio 4’s Pick of the Week programme that features the best of the previous seven days of BBC Radio.

She performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall in May and, earlier in the year, played at the Place des Arts in Montreal in the show Vincerò.

“I love how music takes you to new places and connects with you all sorts of talented people”, she said.

Last year, Yukawa performed at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Festival as part of a special performance by My Favourite Enemy, a remarkable collaboration of Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, American and Norwegian artists, who use their music to try to help bring peace to the Middle East.

The violinist was also able to address the Cambridge Union Society—something she said was infinitely more nerve-wracking than performing in front of tens of thousands of people—as well as play at the Dubai World Cup and welcome 2012 with a bespoke New Year’s Eve performance at the Burj Khalifa skyscraper with musicians Deep Forest.

Now, she said, she is looking forward to the completion of the new album.

“I feel that I’m progressing a lot further with [my] writing and musical style”, she said. “It feels so personal this time, something that has really grown from my own being, so I’m excited to feel as though I am evolving as an artist and reaching new levels”.

Part of everything that Yukawa creates, comes from the remarkable journey the bicultural musician has navigated thus far—and which commenced even before she was born.

Susanne Bayly was pregnant with Diana on 12 August, 1985, when Japan Airlines flight 123 from Haneda International Airport to Osaka crashed into Mount Osutaka, Gunma Prefecture. It was the worst single-aircraft crash in history and only four of the 520 people aboard survived.

Among the victims was Akihisa Yukawa, Diana’s father. Because her parents were not married, it took 24 years for Japanese authorities to add her name to the Yukawa family register.

The difficulties that followed are in the past, however, and Yukawa has said that today she feels her father is still present in her life, guiding and watching over her.

Yukawa’s music is rooted in classical works but, although she has no plans to abandon the genre, she is keen to stretch herself still further in different directions. Thus, recent collaborators include trance DJ Paul Oakenfold, legendary guitarist Jeff Beck, and Craig Armstrong, the award-winning film score composer who worked on The Great Gatsby.

“It’s taking a while to get the next album together, but I really believe [the time spent] will be worth it”, she said. “I’m always keen to explore new avenues and collaborations, as [I find] there’s nothing more inspiring and creative”.