New York Japan Society Announces 2022 Performance Season

From a media release:

New York Japan Society
Announces 2022 Performance Season

New York, NY: November 2021 – Japan Society, one of New York City's key artistic stages, announces the release of tickets for the first three in-person music programs as part of its 2022 season. 

Okinawan traditional performing arts

Following a COVID-shortened 2021, Japan Society's reputation of presenting unique and stellar music programming continues anew with a selection of in-person concerts focused on both ancient tradition and contemporary experimentation, nimbly highlighting the eclectic variety of Japanese culture.

Spring performances will include:

  • Shomyo: Buddhist Ritual Chant choir at St. Bartholemew's Church on February 11
  • A repertoire of Okinawan traditional performing arts accompanied by live music, as curated by National Theater of Okinawa Artistic Director Michihiko Kakazu at Japan Society on March 18 and March 19;
  • The Ainu indigenous people traditional music specialist OKI, playing a mix of folk melodies and electronic fusion at Japan Society on the first week of May (exact date TBA).

Shomyo: Buddhist Ritual Chant—Spiral Mandala Ceremony
Friday, February 11 at 7pm at St. Bartholomew’s Church
Co-presented with the Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation at St. Bartholomew’s Church

Shomyo Buddhist Ritual Chant

Believed to have originated in India, shomyo is a ritual form of Buddhist chant that traveled along the Silk Road to China, eventually reaching Japan in the sixth century. The ethereal voices of Shomyo no Kai—Voices of a Thousand Years, a group of priests from two of Japan’s major Esoteric Buddhist sects (Shingon and Tendai), have enraptured audiences around the world with their ecstatic monophony. Inspired by Navajo folktales and ancient Buddhist mandalas, young, female composer Yu Kuwabara presents a new shomyo piece written in the traditional style, entitled "Spiral Mandala Ceremony." Clad in brightly-colored monastic robes, the choir’s powerful chanting transports the audience to a transcendent meditative state within the exceptional acoustics of St. Bartholomew’s Church.

Waves Across Time: Traditional Dance and Music of Okinawa
Friday, March 18 at 7:30pm followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception
Saturday, March 19 at 7:30pm followed by an artist Q&A

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Okinawa’s return to Japan after the U.S.'s post-WWII occupation, a group of the islands' most exquisite dancers will perform a diverse repertoire of Okinawan traditional performing arts accompanied by live music. As specially selected by the young artistic director of the National Theatre Okinawa Michihiko Kakazu, the versatile artists will perform highlights from the traditional repertoire of kumiodori, a noh-inspired theater form developed during the period when the archipelago was an independent kingdom called Ryukyu (15th-19th centuries). The program also features popular folk dances (zo odori) with traditional ensemble music. From the brightly-dyed bingata costumes to the island music's iconic use of pentatonic scales, audiences are invited to relish the history and heritage of Japan's southernmost prefecture.

A similar performance from 2015:  

OKI: Music of the Ainu
First Week of May - Exact Date TBA 

Oki Kano
Ainu artist Oki Kano

Oki Kano, known professionally as OKI, is a leading musician of Ainu music—the music of Japan’s northernmost indigenous people. Born to a Japanese mother and an Ainu father, OKI has recovered and recreated traditional music on the tonkori, a stringed instrument of the Ainu people of Karafuto (a region also known as Sakhalin). The rich, reverberating twang of the tonkori strings, which are traditionally made from deer tendons, allowed Ainu shamans to communicate with spirits that control the wind, rain and other natural phenomena called kamuy. In this program, OKI performs solo pieces as well as contemporary works, performed by his internationally-known Oki Ainu Dub Band, that fuse Reggae, African and Electronica with Ainu folk melodies. OKI is featured in the film Ainu Mosir (2020), currently streaming on Netflix.



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