Tucked between Oscar and cherry blossom season, March offers an unmissable array of concerts, performances and film premieres, along with a special gathering to mark the two-year anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
This month’s highlights include:
Sunday, March 3, 6:45 p.m.
Still Mind Zendo, 37 West 17th Street
$15 advance, $18 at the door
For reservations, email contact[at]marcreation.com or call 917-400-9362
In the latest workshop of the Spring Traditional Japanese Musical Instrument Series, shamisen specialist Yoko Reikano Kimura will demonstrate the vast 400 years of shamisen repertoire and explore the infinite possibilities of the instrument. Shamisen was brought to Japan through the Silk Road and since then it was popularized among samurai to ordinary citizens. But in today’s cosmopolitan age, new shamisen music continues to thrive.
Avery Fisher Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza
In its first-ever Bach Festival, a kaleidoscopic three-week celebration of the depth and breadth the man the New York Times named the greatest composer of all time, Kobe-born conductor and harpsichordist Masaaki Suzuki leads five vocalists along with his own Bach Colleguim Japan and Yale Schola Cantorum with his own unique approach, combining his perspective with the virtuosity of the New York Philharmonic. On the program are Bach’s “Motet No. 1: Singet dem Herrn” and “Magnificat,” along with Mendelssohn’s :Magnificat in D Major” and “Christus.”
March 9-June 9
Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street
$12 general admission, $10 students and seniors, Japan Society members and children under 16 free
Edo Pop playfully juxtaposes classic ukiyo-e prints from such masters as Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige with contemporary works inspired by these artists and their works. Delve into alluring worlds created by the power of Edo period and contemporary popular culture in which change is the only constant. Organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, with the contemporary art selections curated for the New York presentation by Miwako Tezuka, Ph.D., Director, Japan Society Gallery.
Unitarian Church of All Souls, 1157 Lexington Avenue
$12 per day
The mission of the festival is to present films from around the world that advance global peace. Films should not only highlight the advantages of peaceful solutions to international conflicts, but also deal constructively and hopefully with the root causes of war; we define peace loosely, in new and creative ways. Personal and biographical films related to peace issues are eligible. Also of deep interest are films dealing with the proliferation and consequences of nuclear arms and energy. This year’s highlights include the anime classic Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa, and M.I.S., The Human Secret Weapon by Junichi Suzuki.
Sunday, March 10, 2:00 p.m.
Co-sponsored by the Consortium for Japan Relief, this symposium commemorating the second anniversary of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami will shed light on creative responses to the region and aims to stimulate critical dialogue for change across social, cultural, political and economic boundaries. The program includes exciting presentations by renowned performance artists (Chim↑Pom), scholars (Dr. Shunichi Homma), filmmakers (Jake Price), organizers (Yuhei Suzuki) and student-led groups all dedicated to various aspects of relief and community rebuilding. The speakers will challenge and inspire attendees to discuss the place of creativity in disaster-stricken countries and encourage us to engage in actions for change. Followed by a dining reception.
From Up on Poppy Hill U.S. premiere
The New York International Children’s Film Festival presents the U.S. premiere of the highly anticipated new film from Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and many other animated masterpieces. Written by legendary studio founder Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Goro Miyazaki, From Up on Poppy Hill marks the first feature film collaboration between father and son. The results are stunning—a pure, sincere, nuanced and heartfelt film that signals yet another triumph for the esteemed studio. The star-filled voice cast includes Gillian Anderson, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard and Aubrey Plaza, among many others. Additional NYICFF debuts include an English-language version of Koji Masunari’s Welcome to the Space Show (March 3 & 16) and the continental U.S. premiere of Summer Wars director Mamoru Hosoda’s Wolf Children (March 9-10 & 24, with director Q&A at March 9 screenings).
Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street
$30, $25 Japan Society members
Shakespeare’s chilling tragedy comes to life within a stage set that integrates stunning visual motifs of medieval Japan. Directed by Japan’s star kyogen actor Mansai Nomura, this Macbeth references the vocalization and masks of Japan’s 600-year-old noh and kyogen traditions and melds these elements organically into Shakespeare’s 17th-century Western classic. Following his highly acclaimed Shakespeare-based productions of The Kyogen of Errors (based on The Comedy of Errors) and Kuni-nusubito (based on Richard III), Mansai’s Macbeth features a brilliant cast of only five actors, including Mansai himself in the title role, and weaves the DNA of Japan’s medieval theater tradition into 21st-century universal theater. Macbeth will be performed in Japanese with English subtitles.
Sunday, March 24, 4:00 p.m.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center – Prudential Hall, 1 Center Street, Newark
Kodo, Japan’s internationally acclaimed power drums corps, invokes the spirit of the samurai in a program that is part athletic feat and part musical phenomenon. These “demon drummers” attack their instruments (the largest weighing 900 pounds) with a warrior intensity that preserves the primal power and bravura beauty of traditional taiko drumming. Based in a village on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan, the Kodo drummers have delivered the sound of taiko to more than 46 countries from war-torn Croatia to Carnegie Hall. On their latest coast to coast American tour, the troupe comes to Newark for a special Sunday afternoon performance.
Wednesday, March 27, 7:00 p.m.
Birdland Jazz Club, 315 West 44th Street
A singer of enka, or Japanese blues, Aki Yashiro began her career singing jazz standards in hostess clubs, and eventually became the first female enka singer to have seven top 10 singles on Japan’s Oricon chart. Since 1973, Yashiro has performed 23 times in the Kōhaku Uta Gassen, NHK’s annual Near Year’s Eve music show. Joining Yashiro for this special New York performance are vocalists Hellen Merrill and Kurt Elling and violinist Regina Carter. A second set follows at 9:30 p.m. sans Merrill.
Guggenheim Museum rotunda, 1071 Fifth Ave. at 89th St.
Seated tickets: $50/$45 Japan Society & Guggenheim members/$25 students
Standing tickets: $30/$25 Japan Society & Guggenheim members/$15 students
Co-presented with Japan Society and held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, star kyogen actor Mansai Nomura performs Japan’s oldest celebratory dance for three performances over two days to the live accompaniment of classical noh theater musicians in the Guggenheim rotunda, with stage and costumes designed by internationally renowned artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Gutai: Splendid Playground, SANBASO, is a tribute to the performance Ultramodern Sanbaso (1957) by Shiraga Kazuo, one of the leading figures of Japan’s avant-garde Gutai movement.
Sunday, March 31, 6:30 p.m.
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place
Discover a new collaborative project by J-COLLABO, which seeks to unite artists of different disciplines and genres together. Featuring the work of award-winning composer-violinist Kenji Williams, Bella Gaia brings the beautiful and haunting music of the East and the West together with stunning images from NASA as a backdrop. In addition to a live performance by Williams, this spectacular music and art showcase also features Japanese traditional artists of noh, gagaku and shomyo.
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