It's believed that time spent living abroad can be a journey of self-discovery, and for Miho Hazama that has certainly been the case. Moving to New York to study for a master's degree in jazz composition at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) was an experience that led to the recording of her debut, "Journey to Journey" — a refreshingly original album of orchestral jazz, that stood out as one of the most notable releases in Japan last autumn.

Speaking of her time in New York, Hazama says "It was definitely a great experience in terms of finding myself in a lot of ways. Not only as a composer, but also as a person from a classical music background, as a Japanese woman, and so on.

"Before I studied abroad, I was struggling to find my own voice, something that truly said, 'This is me,' " she continues. "But after I started my MSM life, a lot of friends and teachers told me that my compositions were unique and interesting, and they encouraged me to keep going. Eventually, I got to the point where I decided that I wanted my music to be heard by a wider audience."