Credit: Michael A. Mariant

5 Favorite Songs of Stephen Schwartz

Today is mega-successful composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz’s. The New York native is best known for his musical theatre works, the Wicked composer has had a part in creating fantastic music for animation.

Here are our favorite tracks (in no particular order):

“Deliver Us” (The Prince of Egypt, 1998)


The very theatrical opening to DreamWorks animated classic is as powerful as it sounds. Even if you’re not religious, you’ll enjoy Schwartz’s blend of Israeli folk style with modern musical theatre writing of the time.

“Colors of the Wind” (Pochahontas, 1995)


“Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?” – ‘Nuff said. Schwartz has an unbelievably delicate touch with his lyrics in Disney’s mature cartoon from the 90s renaissance.

That’s How You Know (Enchanted, 2007)


Simplicity is very effective in this clever tune from Disney’s self-aware “princess fairy tale.” Schwartz with composer Alan Menken poke fun at their own works within the genre and the combination is “enchanting!”

God Help the Outcasts (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1996)


Esmeralda’s somber and haunting tune in one of Disney’s darkest features still brings us to tears. The lyrics smartly question the power of prayer from the viewpoint of a nonbeliever – love it!

Defying Gravity (Wicked, 2003)


Quite possibly his most popular tune! The amazing Act I closer to the very popular musical lives up to its namesake. If you were part of the MT crowd, you know this was the “Let it Go” of its day.

Happy Birthday, Stephen!

(Photo Credit: Michael A. Mariant)

Sailor Moon Symphony

ONGAKU Report March-April

Check-out the music-related events in the Northeast during March and April!

MARCH

03-05 – Genericon @ Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
05 – Love Live! Sunshine Concert – Live From Japan @ Village East Cinema
18 – Fubuki Con @ Daemen College, Wick Student Center
24-26 – Conbust @ Smith College, Seelye Hall
31 – Anime Boston @ Hynes Convention Center
31 – Albacon @ Best Western Albany Airport Inn

APRIL

01-02 – Anime Boston @ Hynes Convention Center
01-02 – Albacon @ Best Western Albany Airport Inn
22 – UTAU! Anime Karaoke & Trivia @ The West End Lounge
22-23 – Anime Fan Fest New Jersey @ Garden State Exhibit Center
22-23 – VOCAMERICA Concert (Tora-Con) @ Rochester Institute of Technology
28-30 – UBCon @ University at Buffalo North Campus, Student Union
29-30 – Castle Point Anime Convention @ Stevens Institute of Technology
29-30 – Sakura Matsuri 2017 @ Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Have news of an upcoming concert or performance in the future? Send us a tip!

Top 10 2016 anime OSTs

Top 10 Animes OSTs of 2016

Happy 2017 Everyone! Hope you had a great celebration. We start the year off with our top 10 anime OSTs from 2016. The anime may not be best/most-popular of the year, but the music certainly is:

#10 Twin-Star Exorcists / Mikio Endō

Summer 2016


WATCH The hit action show of the summer starts of our list! Mikio Endō (K, Coppelion) is a newbie to the anime scene and at times it shows. But this action-packed score is so powerful that we couldn’t help but put it on the list. Looking forward to the OST release!

#9 SERVAMP / Kenji Kawai

Summer 2016


WATCHBUY Veteran composer Kenji Kawai (Fate/stay night, Ranma 1/2) brings his decades of experience to this fun, supernatural show. “Smooth” best describes his dynamic score which moves effortlessly from sweet “elevator music” to pumping action under a synthetic melody. Kawai has certainly embraced the electronic-synth age as he continues his craft.

#8 Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Season 3 / Yasuharu Takanashi

Spring 2016


WATCHBUY Season 1 & 2 weren’t the best in terms of music (or animation, for that matter). But season 3 is differently moving in the right direction. Yasuharu Takanashi’s (Naruto Shippuden, Fairy Tail) familiar magical girl score may still pale in comparison to the original – save for a few stand-out tracks. Arisawa certainly expanded his music language with each new season and we’re hopeful Takanashi will do the same.

#7 AJIN / Yugo Kanno

Winter 2016


WATCHBUY Psycho-Pass composer Yugo Kanno brings a complex score to the sleeper hit of the winter season. Combining acoustic orchestral writing á la God of War with the Japanese new-age electronica, Kanno’s suspenseful tunes accurately reflect the traumatic and desperate lives of the Ajin such as the perfectly demonic “Main Theme.”

#6 Bungō Stray Dogs / Taku Iwasaki

Spring 2016


WATCHBUY The music chameleon Taku Iwasaki (Kekkaishi, Soul Eater) is back with a solid soundtrack for a solid anime. Bungo’s score’s strength lies in Iwasaki’s unique approach to electro-acoustic music, blending genres and unusual timbres with pulsating EDM beats and guest rappers. Fun fact: season 2 is his favorite score to date!

#5 D.Gray-man HALLOW / Kaoru Wada

Fall 2016


WATCHBUY Kaoru Wada (InuYasha, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney) is a master of manipulation! He creates unforgettable themes and transforms them throughout all his scores – and HALLOW is no exception! Listen to Allen’s theme as a battle tune, romantic interlude, suspenseful moment, or creepy encounter – it’s genius! So happy to hear throwbacks to his original music from the 2006 anime as well!

#4 Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju / Kana Shibue

Winter 2016


WATCH A newcomer to the anime scene, gifted pianist-composer Shibue offers a nostaglic score imbued with jazz idioms and improvisational musical dialogue that fits perfectly with the show’s time period. We’re very excited to hear what she has coming next!

#3 Erased / Yuki Kajiura

Winter 2016


WATCH If you weren’t expecting to cry this year, tough luck! Aniplex’s tearjerking thriller had some of the best storylines and OSTs of the season! Yuki Kaijura (Sword Art Online, Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicle) is really at her best here; her score piano-driven score is sensitive, emotional, nuanced and will ALWAYS MAKE YOU CRY.

#2 Natsume Yūjinchō Go / Makoto Yoshimori

Fall 2016


WATCH Yes, yes, YES!! It’s BAAACCCKKK!! Makoto Yoshimori (Baccano! Durarara!!) creates a fitting warmth and gentle soundtrack for this very sweet and humbling anime. Certainly a pianist at heart, he has a delicate touch in orchestrating for his small chamber group of strings, clarinet, harp, piano, and traditional Japanese instruments. Would love to do a concert of all his beautiful music from the Natsume series.

#1 My Hero Academia / Yuki Hayashi

Spring 2016


WATCHBUYThe most popular anime of the year? Probably. The most epic shounen score of the year? Definitely! Yuki Hayashi has been creating strong OSTs recently (Haikyuu!!, Death Parade, One Piece Film: Gold) and this one is no exception; he’s becoming a powerhouse in the shounen genre. So, get pumped, get inspired, and rock out with your … superpower out to this powerful soundtrack! Check out our version of the thrilling “you say run.” Highly recommended.

Did we miss your favorite? Let us know on social media!

Shoumi, the Magical Conductor

Meet the Magical Conductor, Shoumi!

Happy Birthday to our very first original character: Shoumi, the magical conductor! Originally a flautist, the New York native dreams of becoming the conductor of a professional symphony orchestra. Check out her stats:

Shoumi, the Magical Conductor

Name: Shoumi (笑美 / しょうみ)
Birthday: November 30
Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City
Height: 5’2″ / 158cm
Blood Type: B
Favorite Japanese Food: Sukiyaki
Favorite American Food: Tacos
Profession: Symphony Conductor
Instrument: Flute
Magical Power: Manipulation
Favorite Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Shoumi can manipulate the space and people around her using the power of music – a perfect skill for a conductor! This character was drawn by the very talented Joko JMC!

Join her and iTSO in our end-of-season concert JUST MAGIC: Music of the Magical Girls coming to New York and San José, CA in May 2017!

iTSO with Lotus Juice and Taku Iwasaki

Sharing the Stage with Anime Music Stars

After a great start to Season III, we end 2016 on a high-note – paying tribute one of the most talented and prolific composer of music for shōnen anime, Taku Iwasaki, at Littlefield NYC in Brooklyn. And this time we were joined by the composer himself and the fantastic rapper Lotus Juice!

Photos by SKot Photography

At our first composer’s concert, a trimmed down 10-piece iTSO invaded the unassuming Brooklyn music venue for a night of video-gaming and action-packed music. It was our first time collaborating with DJ LUNATiC who kept the crowd dancing to some of Iwasaki’s trance and hip-hop hits from Jormungand, C – Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility, and Heaven’s Memo Pad.

iTSO performed some of Iwasaki’s music from hit action series Akame ga Kill, Bungō Stray Dogs, Magic Kaito 1412, Kekkaishi, Noragami, and R.O.D. (Read or Die). Our special guest Lotus Juice joined us on stage for “Bahasa Palus” from Katanagatari, “Reverse the Destiny” from Persona -trinity soul-, “Psychedelic Souljam” from Soul Eater, and OVERDRIVE from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. This was our first collab with an anime industry fellow and Lotus certainly delivered with his signature flow, high-energy, and amazing stage presence! So many guest came just to see his first appearance in a New York venue.

But an even bigger surprise was the appearance of the composer himself! Iwasaki joined us for a pre-show Q&A session and performed 3 pieces on stage as an encore, including “Quiet Life” from Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal with our ensemble as backing musicians. Lotus and Iwasaki performed “Portrait of Love,” an original by Lotus that we helped arrange for the evening!

We hope to present more of these composer concerts with the input and talent of the composers themselves in the future. Thank you all for coming and though our shōnen tributes for this season are over, don’t miss our upcoming magical shōjo concerts in NYC and San José!

View more images on our Flickr Page.
View more tribute videos on our Videos Page.