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“The Professor” is back in town. Last weekend, Ryuichi Sakamoto took the stage at Tokyo Opera City for the debut concert of the Tohoku Youth Orchestra, a 105-strong ensemble of young musicians from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which counts him as its musical director.

Though he isn’t inclined to make a fuss about these things, the occasion also had personal significance for the 64-year-old composer and musician, a longtime New York resident. It was the first concert Sakamoto had played since undergoing treatment for throat cancer in 2014, canceling all engagements in what must be one of the music industry’s busiest work schedules. As he later remarked, it was the first extensive time off he’d had for 40 years.

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