National Sawdust Announces Second Pan Asia Sounding Festival

National Sawdust Announces Second Pan Asia Sounding Festival

Renowned Brooklyn music incubator and performance venue National Sawdust celebrates the future of Asia in its second annual Pan Asia Sounding Festival (March 18-23). Conceived and curated by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Du Yun, the Pan Asia Sounding Festival features pathbreaking works by today's Asian composers, performers, artists, and filmmakers that disrupt the reductive Western tendency to present Asian music and art with a focus on their cultural heritages and future directions. As New York's WPIX11 declared after last season's festival: "There's a revolution going on in Williamsburg."

Du Yun explains:

"The Pan Asia Sounding Festival is made to show audiences a new perspective of Asian cultures, while challenging the status quo of what is Asia from within. Too often, when it is presented in the context of Western culture, Asian art is steeped in traditional forms. This year's thematic focus is cultural migration. What does the future look like for the Asian region? From secular to political, from voice to body, from human to technological, and from traditional to modern - each presentation in the festival addresses one of these themes, while also featuring groundbreaking music in today's world."

Marking one of the many highlights of National Sawdust's fourth season, "Hear It New!", the festival demonstrates the organization's commitment to "link[ing] . . . music to broader social issues" (Time Out New York) and confirms its standing as "an invaluable part of the New York music scene" (New York Times).

The "remarkable (and lovely)" Samita Sinha (New Yorker) launches the Pan Asia Sounding Festival on March 19 at 7:30pm. Drawing on a combination of experimental music and North Indian music, Sinha's vocal performance pieces investigate cultural inheritance and the experience, as she puts it, "of being a body in the world." By deconstructing classical Indian art forms, she examines the ways they represent - and have the potential to re-form - the female body. As the Village Voice notes, "Sinha is channeling the contradictions of the South Asian psyche around gender and sexuality in a series of intimate shows that burst with feral energy." Click here to see a trailer for This ember state (2018), one of Sinha's most recent works.

On March 22 at 7pm, the festival continues with No Revenge Necessary, an original multimedia opera hailed as the "newest adventure in mind-melding sound wizardry" (Observer) by Japanese-born composer, librettist, and director Yuka C Honda. Combining acoustic and electronic music with film and more, the opera explores the relationship between humans and technology through a dystopian story of people struggling to survive alongside artificial intelligences in an environmentally scarred future. Click here to see No Revenge Necessary at National Sawdust.

The Joyous Strings ensemble joins the festival on March 23 at 7pm. Comprising Chinese and Korean children, the ensemble was founded in 2010, when its members were just five years old. Playing repertoire ranging from Vivaldi and Bach to Michael Jackson and Katy Perry, the ensemble is now an international sensation, having performed for President Obama at the White House as well as on the Ellen Degeneres Show, ABC's Good Morning America, Steve Harvey's Little Big Shots, and many more. As part of the Pan Asia Sounding Festival, this concert shows the potential for future generations to transcend political differences and come together in harmony. Click here to see Joyous Strings play Bach's double violin concerto.

The festival concludes on March 23 at 9pm with a performance by Ali Sethi and his Lahore band, form Pakistan. Recognized with several Lux Style nominations in his native Pakistan, singer-songwriter Sethi studied under Ustad Naseeruddin Saami, one of the greatest living exponents of Pakistani classical music, and with Farida Khanum, the greatest living exponent of "semi-classical" ghazal singing. Sethi offers a contemporary take on ghazal, lyric poems that draw on the mystical metaphors of Sufism to convey erotic, political, and spiritual meanings. Fusing Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Indian musical traditions, the verses of the Ghazal have been used for centuries to challenge social norms and upend gender binaries, and have ultimately served to bring their listeners closer to the divine. The multi-talented Sethi is also a novelist and feature writer, whose work has appeared in the New Yorker and New York Times, and whose English-language novel has been nominated for multiple awards. Click here to see Sethi's music video "Chan Kithan."

Before each festival performance, a short excerpt will be screened from Hills as Tall as Towers, a film by award-winning architect Sony Devabhaktuni. Shot from a path overlooking Hong Kong, it reveals the city as a layering of human activity, technology, and nature.

About Du Yun

Du Yun, born and raised in Shanghai and currently based in New York City, is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, performance artist, activist, and curator for new music, working at the intersection of orchestral music, opera, chamber music, theatre, cabaret, musical theatre, oral tradition, public performance, sound installation, electronics, visual arts, and noise. Hailed by the New York Times as a "leading figure in China's new generation of composers" and often cited as a key activist in New York's "new movement in new music," Du Yun's music is championed by some of today's finest performing artists, ensembles, orchestras, and organizations.

Describing her as "protean" and "chameleonic," NPR voted Du Yun one of 100 composers under 40 in 2011 and the Washington Post named her one of the top 35 female composers in classical music. She is known for her "relentless originality and unflinching social conscience" (New Yorker). In 2017, she won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for her opera Angel's Bone, with librettist Royce Vavrek. She is a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow, and the same year was named one of the 38 Great Immigrants by the Carnegie Foundation. Her work Air Glow has a 2019 Grammy nomination in the category of Best Classical Contemporary Composition.


Curator: Du Yun


Monday, March 19, 2019 at 7:30pm

Samita Sinha performs a new vocal piece that moves through parallel tonalities within experimental music and North Indian classical music to investigate cultural inheritance and female embodiment.


Friday, March 22, 2019 at 7pm

No Revenge Necessary is an original multimedia opera by Japanese-born composer, librettist, and director Yuka C Honda. Combining acoustic and electronic music with film and other multimedia formats, the opera explores the relationship between humans and technology.


Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 6pm

The Joyous Strings ensemble comprises critically acclaimed young Chinese and Korean children, who play repertoire ranging from Vivaldi and Bach to Michael Jackson and Katy Perry.


Saturday, March 23, 2019 at 9pm

Pakistani-born singer-songwriter Ali Sethi and his Lahore Band, from Pakistan, offer a contemporary take on ghazal, lyric poems based on the mystical poetry of Sufism, which fuse Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Indian musical traditions to bring their listeners closer to the divine.

About National Sawdust

National Sawdust's mission is to build new audiences for classical and new music by providing outstanding resources and programmatic support to both emerging and established artists and composers. Centered on discovery within music, its programming introduces audiences to new artists and styles, and introduces artists to new audiences. An incubator of new music, National Sawdust also provides artists the space, time, and resources they need to create their art.

National Sawdust is both a state-of-the-art performance venue and a recording studio, housed within a preserved century-old sawdust factory. The building - which has won multiple architecture awards - also houses Rider, a two-story bistro and bar led by James Beard Award-winning chef Patrick Connolly. Rider completes the audience experience by offering an exceptional menu of food and drink during performances.

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