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John Zorn, Shomyo: Buddhist Ritual Chant and More Set for Japan Society's 2013-14 Season

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In Japanese tradition, kanreki, one's 60th birthday, is a special celebration of longevity and rebirth, honoring a lifetime of accomplishments, taking stock of achievements, and diving into the future with renewed drive and reinvigorated purpose.

In the 2013-14 season, Japan Society's 60th Anniversary Performing Arts Season: Japan, the U.S. & Beyond!, the Japan Society Performing Arts Program celebrates its kanreki with a range of international cross-cultural collaborations, encompassing beloved encore performances, world and U.S. premieres, legendary performers and emerging artists.

Since 1953, Japan Society's Performing Arts Program has enriched and expanded the cultural landscape in New York, the U.S. and beyond through the presentation of artists whose works are formed or inspired by the arts and culture of Japan.

"In the early years of the program, Japan Society offered eye-opening first glimpses into the unique and beautiful traditions of Japan," says Japan Society's Artistic Director Yoko Shioya, who has led year-round programming since 2003. "Today, in an immensely more globalized world bounding with near-limitless interconnectivity, we not only continue to host outstanding performances at our home venue in New York City and through North American tours, but also initiate dialogues, build exchanges and inspire collaborations among creative forces from Japan, the U.S. and beyond to make innovative visions come to life."
On October 4, avant-garde iconoclast musician/composer John Zorn performs two separate, back-to-back improvisational concerts with Ryuichi Sakamoto as the final, culminating event of Zorn's citywide 60th birthday celebration Zorn@60.

"It's more than coincidence that John celebrates his kanreki at the same time as ours," says Shioya. "John's passion for Japan on all levels is profound, from the numerous artists he's introduced through his Tzadik music label and the label's live music concert series that he curated at Japan Society, to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the concerts he organized for Japan around the city raised for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami."
On March 6, Japan Society will bring the venerated tradition of shomyo Buddhist chant, generally considered to be one of the oldest living forms of vocal music and one only rarely performed in the U.S., into a contemplative setting at St. Bartholomew's Church with a colorful performance by two-dozen priests entitled Shomyo: Buddhist Ritual Chant.

"Japan Society's commitment to contemporary and avant-garde music doesn't occlude our deep appreciation of traditional sounds," says Shioya. "It is entirely fitting that, during a season where we pause to acknowledge the scope and historical influence of our programming, we feature some of the world's most venerable music. Placing shomyo performers in a sacred space so far from their native home is a perfect evocation of the enduring sixty-year mission of our Performing Arts Program: to juxtapose the arts of the East and the West in a fashion that is provocative, educational and affecting."


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