Bang on a Can All-Stars Return to Japan Society with RIMPA REIMAGINED Tonight
Tonight, December 8 at 7:30pm, the Bang on a Can All-Stars will return to the Japan Society (333 East 47th Street) to perform Rimpa Reimagined, a multimedia program unveiling world premieres by red-hot New York-based composer/jazz pianist Vijay Iyer and celebrated Japanese post-minimalist composer Mamoru Fujieda. In addition, the All-Stars will revive Somei Satoh’s Shu (Spells) for the first time since its world premiere at the Society in 2004. This time, the piece will be performed to a Rimpa-art-inspired visual landscape specially created for this concert by cutting-edge motionographer Nobuyuki Hanabusa.
The All-Stars’ concert is presented in conjunction with Japan Society’s exhibition Silver Wind: The Arts of Sakai H?itsu (1761-1828), showcasing one of the masters of the traditional Japanese painting movement, Rimpa. Fujieda’s and Iyer’s new pieces are both based on inspiration taken from Rimpa; Hanabusa’s work will also incorporate his own manipulation of traditional Rimpa paintings’ motifs. Concertgoers are encouraged to come early to see the exhibition, and gallery access is free of charge for ticket holders arriving prior to showtime.
Rimpa Reimagined closes out Bang on a Can’s landmark 25th year, a season marked by the organization’s celebrated quarter-century commitment to presenting innovative new collaborations with artists from across the globe. Historically, Bang on a Can has an impressive record of collaborations with leading Japanese composers, and has commissioned and premiered works by Yoko Ono (2010), Ryuichi Sakamoto (2009), Tatsuya Yoshida (2011) and Nobukazu Takemura (2004) in addition to the pieces to be performed on this concert by Somei Satoh and Mamoru Fujieda.
A leading figure of Japan's postminimalism movement, composer Mamoru Fujieda was born in 1955 and first studied at the Tokyo College of Music, then received his Ph.D. in music from University of California, San Diego. Working with artists including John Zorn, Yuji Takahashi, and Malcolm Goldstein, Fujieda composes music that emerges from his fascination with the collaborative formation of music. Whether working with the Butoh dancer Setsuko Yamada to produce sound sculptures that emerge from a mutual reaction between the dancer and objects that she touches, or reading the minute electrical currents flowing through an orchid to express nature's undulations, Fujieda's work represents an innovative approach that fuses technology to biology, composer to performer, and music to audience.
“Sakai H?itsu's cherry blossoms begin to sing,” says Fujieda of the inspiration for his new piece for the All-Stars, entitled Gamelan Cherry. “My work will be based on patterns derived from the subtly changing electric potentials in cherry blossoms.”
Of his new piece for the All-Stars, entitled Rimpa Ephemera, Vijay Iyer says, “I am attempting something I know to be impossible: a direct translation of a visual experience into a musical experience. From perceptual and geometric analyses of the grand, improvised arm and hand gestures of H?itsu's Waves, the gentler poetic near-realism of his Winter Beauty, and Suzuki Kiitsu's stylized, manic swarm of Morning Glories, I derive musical acts that directly represent the gestural brushstrokes, or the rhythms of the perceiving eye.”
The American-born son of Indian immigrants and a 2011 Grammy nominee, Iyer recently received top honors in five categories of the 2012 Down Beat International Critics Poll, including Jazz Artist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year (for Accelerando), Jazz Group of the Year (for the Vijay Iyer Trio), Pianist of the Year, and Rising Star Composer.
Somei Satoh is a composer of the post-war generation whose hauntingly evocative musical language is a fusion of Japanese timbral sensibilities with 19th century Romanticism and electronic technology. Satoh has been deeply influenced by Shintoism, the writings of the Zen Buddhist scholar DT Suzuki, his Japanese cultural heritage, and the multimedia art forms of the sixties. Satoh’s Shu, written for the All-Stars and commissioned by Japan Society in 2004, is an exploration of the two contradictory meanings of the word “shu,” which is derived from Buddhism and originally meant “incantation” or “spells.”
Satoh explains, “The first [meaning] is a curse; a wrath so deeply rooted in the feeling of hatred so as to damage someone’s health or destroy a person’s life. The other is a prayer for happiness; a wish to heal sickness and for the children to grow up healthy. This piece is comprised of four movements, and each movement reflects a different meaning of SHU. For instance, one movement symbolizes a mother’s intent prayer for the peaceful happiness of her child.”
“We are so excited to be working with the Japan Society,” says Bang on a Can co-founder David Lang. “Over the years Bang on a Can has had many great experiences with some of Japan's leading composers – commissioning their music, bringing them to New York, and playing their pieces at leading venues and festivals around the world. The strange thing is that we have performed all over Asia but we have never been to Japan. And we really want to come! We hope it will be soon.”
In addition to the projects listed above, Bang on a Can has also collaborated with or presented performances by Japanese artists including the Kazue Sawai Koto Ensemble, Toshio Hosokawa, Akiko Ushijima, choreographer Yoshiko Chuma, and the band Ne-Ne, among others.
The 2012-2013 season sees Bang on a Can performing throughout the United States and around the world featuring an extensive selection of brand new musical adventures alongside a recommitment to acclaimed projects from past years. Bang on a Can performs regularly this season in its hometown of New York, and travels worldwide to cities including Los Angeles, London, Krakow, Toronto, and in many other places throughout the U.S. and internationally. (See schedule at the end of this release.)
In addition to performing at Japan Society, highlights for this season include the Bang on a Can All-Stars joining forces with Norwegian superstars Trio Mediaeval for a European tour of Julia Wolfe’s Steel Hammer as well as for the world premiere recording of the work, to be released on Bang on a Can’s sister-label Cantaloupe Music; a tour of Australia including performances at the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Recital Centre; plus collaborations with an increasing and eclectic range of composers, visual, and sound artists in the continued creation of Field Recordings.
Bang on a Can is dedicated to making music new. Since its first Marathon concert in 1987, Bang on a Can has been creating an international community dedicated to innovative music, wherever it is found. With adventurous programs, it commissions new composers, performs, presents, and records new work, develops new audiences, and educates the musicians of the future. Bang on a Can is building a world in which powerful new musical ideas flow freely across all genres and borders. Bang on a Can plays “a central role in fostering a new kind of audience that doesn’t concern itself with boundaries. If music is made with originality and integrity, these listeners will come.” (The New York Times)
Bang on a Can celebrated 25 years during the 2011-2012 season, having grown from a one-day New York-based Marathon concert (on Mother’s Day in 1987 in a SoHo art gallery) to a multi-faceted performing arts organization with a broad range of year-round international activities. “When we started Bang on a Can in 1987, in an art gallery in SoHo, we never imagined that our one-day, 12-hour marathon festival of mostly unknown music would morph into a giant international organization dedicated to the support of experimental music, wherever we would find it,” write Bang on a Can Co-Founders Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. “But it has, and we are so gratified to be still hard at work, all these years later. The reason is really clear to us – we started this organization because we believed that making new music is a utopian act—that people needed to hear this music and they needed to hear it presented in the most persuasive way, with the best players, with the best programs, for the best listeners, in the best context. Our commitment to changing the environment for this music has kept us busy and growing for the last 25 years, and we are not done yet.”
Current projects include the annual Bang on a Can Marathon; The People's Commissioning Fund, a membership program to commission emerging composers; the Bang on a Can All-Stars, who tour to major festivals and concert venues around the world every year; recording projects; the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival - a professional development program for young composers and performers led by today’s pioneers of experimental music; Asphalt Orchestra, Bang on a Can’s extreme street band that offers mobile performances re-contextualizing unusual music; Found Sound Nation, a new technology-based musical outreach program now partnering with the State Department of the United States of America to create Onebeat, a revolutionary, post-political residency program that uses music to bridge the gulf between young American musicians and young musicians from developing countries; cross-disciplinary collaborations and projects with DJs, visual artists, choreographers, filmmakers and more. Each new program has evolved to answer specific challenges faced by today’s musicians, composers and audiences, in order to make innovative music widely accessible and wildly received. Bang on a Can’s inventive and aggressive approach to programming and presentation has created a large and vibrant international audience made up of people of all ages who are rediscovering the value of contemporary music.
Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for both English and Japanese-speaking artists and audiences. Since the inception of the Performing Arts Program in 1953, Japan Society has produced more than 600 showings of Japan's finest performing arts to an extensive American audience in and out of New York City. Program topics range from the traditional to the avant-garde. Japan Society commissions new works, administrates national tours, organizes residency programs for American and Japanese artists and develops and distributes educational programs. The Society is responsible for hosting more than 100 events each year. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society's overarching goal is to cultivate a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan.
Since the inception of the Performing Arts Program in 1953, Japan Society has introduced more than 600 of Japan's finest performing arts to an extensive American audience. Programs range from the traditional arts of noh, kyogen, bunraku and kabuki to cutting-Edge Theater, dance and music. The Program also commissions new works to non-Japanese artists, produces national tours, organizes residency programs for American and Japanese artists and develops and distributes educational programs.
For the Bang on a Can 2012-2013 Season Schedule, click here.