13 December 2011
Dr David Hughes has been awarded a prize by the Japan Society for his significant contribution to engaging people with Japanese culture, particularly through sharing musical traditions and performances.
The Japan Society awards only two prizes each year 'for outstanding contributions to Anglo-Japanese relations and understanding'. One prize is usually awarded to a Japanese national and one to a non-Japanese national at the Society’s annual dinner.
Dr Hughes’ work in this area has included organising performances and workshops by a variety of Japanese musicians from different musical traditions. He has also nurtured and continued to actively support music groups within the UK. Many of these activities take place at SOAS.
“I couldn’t feel more honoured," Dr Hughes said. "To me, being involved in facilitating music events, even in retirement, is a way of repaying Japan for all these wonderful years of researching Japanese music and 10 years of living there."
In a statement announcing the award, the Japan Society praised Dr Hughes for his many years of scholarship and teaching in Japanese musical traditions and practice.
“His infectious enthusiasm and willingness to give his time and expertise has enabled many in the UK to engage with Japan,” the announcement read. “It is thanks to David that many in the UK have first encountered a wide range of [Japanese] music.”
Dr Hughes retired in 2008 from his role as Senior Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, after 22 years at SOAS, where he remains a research associate.
“I’m still doing a lot of academic research and writing on various aspects of Japanese music, but nothing compares to being involved with live music and wonderful musicians," he said. "I seem to be involved in about two events a month: concerts, workshops, lecture-demonstrations. Retirement gives me even more time to do this. The evening before the prize dinner, I was MC for a Japanese concert at SOAS. Certainly I’ll keep doing such things whenever possible.”