Discipline: Music Composition

Migiwa Miyajima

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: New York, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 2024

Hailing from Japan, Migiwa “Miggy” Miyajima is a New York-based composer, pianist, five-time Grammy nominated producer, and leader of the Miggy Augmented Orchestra. A change-maker by nature, Miyajima aims to improve the opportunity gap between different social groups through her music. Using her signature ‘ensemble music,’ she seeks to highlight the unique colors that all humans contribute to society.

While at MacDowell, Miyajima was at work on a project responding to the spike in anti-Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAAPI) hate crimes. She was working toward a nine-movement suite in a 17-piece jazz-orchestra form titled "A Dream of the Paper-Piano Girl." Through this project, she aims to inspire audiences to choose reconciliation over division in difficult situations. The suite is based on the true stories of her mother, Yuko Miyajima, who was born in Japanese-occupied China shortly after World War II. She practiced piano on keys drawn on a piece of paper, as her family could never afford a piano. She experienced the war’s aftermath, poverty, discrimination, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake, cancer, and surgery, and still says "life is good" sharing her love with others. This project explores these experiences, and also, how she contributed to her daughter's journey—Migiwa’s journey—as a U.S.-based musician.


Irving Fine

Migiwa Miyajima worked in the Irving Fine studio.

Youngstown Studio was given to MacDowell by friends of Miss Myra McKeown in Youngstown, OH, where she promoted both art and music. It was renamed Irving Fine Studio in 1972 in honor of Irving Fine, a distinguished composer, conductor, and teacher who was a MacDowell Fellow during the 1940s and 1950s. The simple interior of the studio…

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