In June 1990, after two years of planning, the Center served as one of the major organizers of the Pacific Music Festival (PMF) in Sapporo, Japan. It took place over a period of three weeks (June 26 – July 13) under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra. 

Pacific Composers Conference participants (from left to right): Eugene Lee, Chou Wen-chung, Isang Yun, Peter Sculthorpe, and Joji Yuasa
Pacific Composers Conference participants (from left to right): Eugene Lee, Chou Wen-chung, Isang Yun, Peter Sculthorpe, and Joji Yuasa

The PMF brought together young instrumentalists and composers, ages 18-29, from regions bordering the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and the West coast of the United States. Festival activities included a rigorous schedule of classes, rehearsals, instrumental demonstrations, and musical performances. A 123-member youth orchestra, the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra (PMFO), was chosen from 500 applicants.

In addition to forming an orchestra, the Festival hosted a Pacific Composers Conference, which convened during the latter part of the Festival. 

“Now it is time for us to find our own way—to be the new Boulez, Stockhausen, the new Nono from Asia…” – Isang Yun, Composer-in-Residence

The PMFO performed three concerts for local audiences in Sapporo and two additional concerts—one in Tokyo and one in Yokohama. Four conductors assisted in the efforts of Bernstein and Tilson Thomas:

  • Leif Bjaland, Resident Conductor, New World Symphony; Miami, FL
  • Yutaka Sado, Japanese conductor, who, in June 1990, was residing as a freelance conductor in Vienna
  • Marin Alsop, Music Director, Eugene Symphony and the Long Island Philharmonic
  • Eiji Oue, Associate Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic, lent his generous assistance and was selected as the Resident Conductor of the PMFO.

The PMF was made possible through the efforts of:

  • Harry J. Kraut, Executive Director, Video Music Productions
  • Japan’s New Art Service Agency (NASA)
  • Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange

All expenses for the PMFO musicians were covered by the chief sponsors, Nomura Securities, as well as the co-sponsors—Sony, Toyota, Japan Air Lines, and many individual donors.

Pacific Composers Conference

June 30 – July 10, 1990

Held in conjunction with the Pacific Music Festival (PMF), the Pacific Composers Conference (PCC) offered a forum for 46 composers (out of 200 applicants from 25 countries) from the Pacific region to share artistic concerns, ideas, and experiences. The composers from Australia to Korea and from the Philippines to Peru included those who had lived, taught, or become established in the West as well as those who had never lived outside their native country. They were not chosen for their musical competence alone, but also for their ability to interact, explore, and compare views in an atmosphere that would reflect their own cultural background.

The final selection panel included composers: George Crumb, Mario Davidovsky and Chinary Ung.

Participating Composers included:


  • Chou Wen-chung, USA
  • Jose Maceda, Philippines 
  • Isang Yun, Korea/Germany

Senior Guest composers

  • Eugene Lee, Korea/USA
  • Peter Sculthorpe, Australia
  • Chinary Ung, Cambodia/USA
  • Joji Yuasa, Japan/USA

Guest Composers

  • Francisco Feliciano, Philippines
  • Toshio Hosokawa, Japan
  • Qu Xiaosong, China


  • Tetsuo Amemiya
  • Brenton Broadstock
  • Victor Chan
  • Chen Xiaoyong
  • Chen Yi
  • Chen Yuanlin
  • Shyh-ji Chew
  • Bruce Crossman
  • Brent Davids
  • Conrado Del Rosario
  • Suguru Goto
  • James Harley
  • He Xuntian
  • Melissa Hui
  • Hung Yu-Chien
  • Hiroyuki Itoh
  • Gee-Bum Kim
  • Sung-Ki Kim
  • Kui-Im Lee
  • Alexina Louie
  • Lu Pei*
  • Satoshi Minami
  • Catherine Nez
  • Kilsung Oak
  • Robert Priest
  • Franki Raden
  • Valerie Ross
  • Ian Shanahan
  • Bright Sheng*
  • Jose Sosaya
  • Minako Tokuyama
  • Josefino Toledo
  • David Tsang
  • Tzeng Shing-Kwei
  • Sinta Wullur
  • Ye Xiaogang
  • Zhou Long
  • Zhu Shirui

*unable to attend

Pacific Composers’ Project

As an offshoot of the Pacific Composers Conference, in 1991 the Center founded the Pacific Composers Project (PCP) to help promote the musical works of young and emerging Pacific composers by providing exposure to their music through concerts and recordings. The PCP Library was set up at the offices of the Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange on the Columbia University Campus in New York City. Throughout the 1990s, the library provided access to Pacific scores for Western performance groups, as well as information on Pacific composers and their compositions to scholars and the general public.

The Pacific Composers Project spearheaded a series of concerts through the 1990s. The first was Premieres! New Works from Mainland China, which featured works by five young composers, and was held on October 17, 1991, at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. The second PCP concert was held on May 13, 1992 at Music Center De IJsbreker in Amsterdam. The program was based on concerts organized by the Center for the 1990 Pacific Composers Conference in Sapporo, Japan. The PCP was again the inspiration for two concerts held in Buffalo, New York, on April 16 and 17, 1994. These concerts, composed entirely of contemporary Chinese compositions, were part of a two-day Festival of Music that also included panel discussions. The PCP Library was used to plan the festival.