World Theatre composer and musician Genji Ito died April 23 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center after a long battle. The prolific artist, who was 54, had scored many productions for New York theatres including La MaMa E.T.C., The Great Jones Repertory and Ubu Repertory Theater.
Manhattan-born (Dec. 11, 1946), Ito was raised on St. Luke's Place in Greenwich Village and in Mexico City by his mother Teiki Ono and father Yuji Ito, who were a dancer and composer/designer respectively.
In 1982, Ito became the resident musician/composer at downtown NYC's La MaMa where he would work on over 25 productions and even collaborate on a show called Tiré with the likes of Julie Taymor (The Lion King). Some of the productions he lent his hand to include Goatman by Raymond Schanze, Nowhere by Reine Bartève, The Sleepless City by Jean Tardieu and Yunus by La MaMa founder Ellen Stewart.
Ito was honored at the 1986 Obie Awards with a special citation for his sustained excellence in Music. He also worked as musical director for Jerome Robbins' "Watermill" for the New York City Ballet and performed in Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures on Broadway.
Genji Ito was survived by three children — daughter Sofia Teiko Ito and sons Ted Ito Schmidt and Teiji Orion Malkine — his brother Teimoc Johnston, sister-in-law Gail Ryan Ito, niece Taiva Ito, aunt and uncle Saiki and Jerry Ito, cousins Aiji Ito and Michelle Ito, and his wife Zishan Ugurlu. A memorial will be held at The Annex Theater at La MaMa E.T.C., 66 East Fourth Street, May 7 at 7PM. — by Ernio Hernandez