Spring has sprung in the Big Apple, and that means one thing: a new season of sounds, colors, and spectacular performing arts to match the blossoming sakura trees throughout the city.
This month’s highlights include:
Tuesday, April 8
MSRP $29.99, $34.99
The companion second volume to the earlier chronicle Starting Point: 1979-1996 (also new in paperback), Turning Point is an insightful collection of essays, interviews, memoirs, and illustrations from legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki. The new title covers the critical stage in the legendary director’s career when his animated films for Studio Ghibli such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Ponyo began to garner a significant international audience. Turning Point follows Miyazaki as his grand vision continued to mature, cinema-lovers worldwide discovered and embraced his creations, and prominent film critics such as Roger Ebert delivered tremendous acclaim for the director’s films. Bringing us up to the present is The Art of The Wind Rises, which captures the art of the film from conception to production, featuring in-depth interviews with the creative team from Miyazaki’s latest—and supposedly final—Academy Award-nominated epic.
April 8-13, 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
Blue Note Jazz Club, 131 West Third Street
Born in Kobe to a jazz organist father, Makoto Ozone came to Boston in 1980 to study at the Berklee College of Music, where multi-Grammy Award-winning vibraphonist Gary Burton was a composition and percussion instructor. After graduation he made his first American solo appearance in 1983 with a recital at Carnegie Hall. The incredibly talented young man struck a record deal with CBS, making his international debut in 1984 with the album OZONE. Burton and Ozone have been collaborators in the duet format for over two decades and recorded the Grammy-nominated Virtuosi in 2002. The versatile Ozone has hosted a TV series in Japan, ventured into electronics, and composed for and played with classical orchestras in addition to working with his own jazz trio from his home in New York.
Wednesday, April 9, 8:00 p.m.
Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Avenue
Praised by the New York Times when she last appeared at Carnegie Hall as “among the most respected artists of our time” for her “probing and magisterial performances” of Schubert’s last three sonatas, pianist Mitsuko Uchida returns to perform his “Reliquie” Sonata, once mistakenly thought to be the composer’s final work. Also on the program is Beethoven’s all-encompassing and transcendent Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli.
Friday, April 11, 7:00 p.m.
Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street
Free (at the door)
This long-running annual concert represents the musical side of the Nippon Club, the United States’ only traditional club for Japanese nationals. This special performance—which will be completely open to the public—offers a three-part program that will include upper-voice arrangements of Japanese songs entitled “Furusato”; a complete reading of “Hana to Umi no Ballad” originally composed by Saburo Iwakawa and Shigeko Miyata; and “Vocalise” with music by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
J-LABO Brooklyn, 300-302 Seventh Street
The Showa era (1926-1989) is often referred to as a time of turbulence, balancing the catastrophe of wars in the Pacific, the use of nuclear weapons, and the Japanese Miracle of economic growth that ushered in the ascent of a world superpower. Artist Yuichi Sugai with Miho Morita’s newest exhibition pays homage to this monumental time in Japanese history, a time in which the spirit and vitality was ultimately restored in the hearts of the people. An opening reception with Music Night party kicks off April 12 at 8 p.m., followed by an additional Music Night featuring Combat Jazz on April 19 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.
Best Buy Theater, 1515 Broadway
Short for “Best Absolute Perfect,” B.A.P is a six-member South Korean hip-hop group that formed in 2012 and debuted in Japan the following year with the release of their single and album titled Warrior. Also in 2013, B.A.P had bombarded four major cities across the States showing their explosive popularity by selling out 10,000 tickets within one hour. With the start of their new tour in Seoul on March 8, B.A.P. are expected to draw more than 100,000 fans in four continents.
Film Forum, 209 West Houston St.
$13, $7.50 members
Whet your appetite for the May 16 arrival of the latest American flick starring the King of the Monsters by going back to the original uncut, unedited Japanese-language source! Presented in a stunning new 60th anniversary restoration, Ishirô Honda’s landmark of the kaiju eiga, or Japanese monster movie, was the biggest budgeted film in Japanese history of its time, costing nearly twice as much as the same studio’s The Seven Samurai, released the same year. An enormous hit, it spawned 50 years of sequels, countless rip-offs, and one legendarily bad NES game.
Saturday, April 19, 8:00 p.m.
Goddard Riverside Community Center, 593 Columbus Avenue
Free with registration
Composers Concordance presents a wide-ranging program that features traditional instruments of Japan such as taiko, shakuhachi, and hichiriki, combined with rock music and martial arts as part of this multi-genre event. The all-clarinet Licorice Ensemble will perform a newly composed suite based on traditional Japanese melodies, and the program will conclude with Gene Pritsker's arrangement inspired by Deep Purple's classic “Woman from Tokyo.” With performances and compositions by Sara Aratake, Angela Babin, Lynn Bechtold, Dan Cooper, Masatora Goya, Margaret Lancaster, Lukas Ligeti, Noriko Nagao, Alon Nechushtan, Jade Ogoshi, Milica Paranosic, Thomas Piercy, Gene Pritsker, James Nyoraku Schlefer, Chihiro Shibayama, Gerald Starlight, Tomoko Sugawara, Michiyo Suzuki, Mioi Takeda, Kaoru Watanabe, Akari Yamamoto, Joji Yuasa, and more!
April 19, 21, 25, 27
$17, Friday screening free
Premiering as part of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival’s shorts program Soul Surviors! A man sets his alarm clock and goes to bed, but during the night, the world turns into a seamless series of animated dreamscapes. Writer-director Tomoki Kurogi calls Cycloid “an animation work representing a[n] impermanence. I expressed the beauty of the changing times to draw a landscape animation by hand. I want to describe that accepting and enjoying the change would cause a full life.”
Monday, April 21, 7:00 p.m.
Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue
$14, $10.75 children and seniors
New York premiere! Nearly 20 years after the release of Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira)’s epic animated anthology Memories showcased the work of upcoming superstars of the anime world, his spotlight shifts to a fresh generation of master creators with Short Peace, a new collection of four short animated films from some of Japan's most talented anime creators including the Academy Award-nominated Possessions from director Shuhei Morita. Short Peace also contains A Farewell to Arms, directed by Hajime Katoki from an original story by Otomo.
April 26-27, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Avenue
$25 adults, $20 students and seniors, free for children under 12 and BBG members
Billed as a dynamic two days of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture inspired by BBG’s famous collection of flowering cherry trees, organizers will once again welcome tens of thousands of visitors to its massive 52 acres, home to over 12,000 kinds of plants (and, for that weekend, nearly as many cosplayers). Enjoy events, activities and food for all ages while taking in live performances from guests include the New York troupe Dancejapan with Sachiyo Ito, BBG Parasol Society Fashion Show featuring J-pop singer Hitomi Himekawa of Rainbow Bubble, women’s taiko group Cobu featuring Yako Miyamoto (the first Japanese cast member of the Off-Broadway hit STOMP).
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