Kennedy Center Announces Japanese Festival, Plus Chamber Music and Opera Events

Classic Arts News   Kennedy Center Announces Japanese Festival, Plus Chamber Music and Opera Events
Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center, home to the National Symphony Orchestra and venue for a full schedule of ballet and contemporary dance performances, also hosts a number of other events on its 2007-08 lineup, including a special multidisciplinary festival called Japan! culture + hyperculture.

Musical highlights of the festival, which runs February 5-17, include a tribute to Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, curated by his daughter, Maki Takemitsu, and featuring Katsumi Watanabe and Daisuke Suzuki on guitar, Yasihiro "Coba" Kobayashi on accordion and Tomohiro Yahiro on percussion.

Violinist Midori will join the Mir‹ Quartet and other artists for Debussy, Ravel and Takemitsu; Aki Takahashi, a pianist who specializes in new music, will play a solo recital. The festival also features an appearance by a laptop orchestra that experiments with the sound of the sho, a traditional Japanese mouth organ.

The dance segment of Japan! culture + hyperculture includes the D.C. premiere of the full-evening work NINA materialize sacrifice by contemporary dance company Noism 08, directed and choreographed by Jo Kanamori and set to music by Ton That An. The all-female troupe Strange Kinoko Dance Company will present Flowers , and Tokyo's New National Theatre Ballet performs Raymonda and works by Balanchine, Duato and Asami.

"This unprecedented assembly of Japanese artists honors, celebrates and extends the long-standing bond between the Kennedy Center and Japan. It serves as an example of the powerful nature of the arts to strengthen relations between nations," said Michael M. Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center.

As a gift to mark the opening of the Kennedy Center in 1971, Japan gave the 3,000-pound red and gold silk curtain for the Opera House stage. In 1975, Prime Minister Miki presented President Ford with the funds to build the Terrace Theater, and in 1989, the Japan Endowment was created, enabling the Center to present Japanese performing artists and companies.

The Kennedy Center also presents the Fortas Chamber Music series, whose offerings for 2007-08 include St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble playing Bach's complete Brandenburg Concertos; the Guarneri String Quartet playing Bart‹k, Haydn, and Smetana; members of the NSO playing Mozart and Stravinsky; pianist Jonathan Biss playing Bart‹k, Janšcek and Brahms with his mother, violinist Miriam Fried; and a solo recital by soprano Dawn Upshaw (repertoire to be announced later).

A number of renowned vocal ensembles will also appear during a festival called A Cappella: Singing Solo, which kicks off on May 28 with The Men of the Deeps, a choir of working and retired coal miners, and the Washington National Cathedral Choirs.

Classical groups on the lineup include the all-male Chanticleer; the three women of Trio Mediaeval; I Fagiolini, the British ensemble specializing in Renaissance and contemporary music; the men's choir Cantus from Minneapolis-St. Paul; and la Capilla Virreinal de la Nueva Espaê±a, a Mexican group specializing in the sacred music of colonial Latin America.

In additional, the Kirov Opera of St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater will make another of its regular visits to the Kennedy Center, performing Verdi's Otello and Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades under company artistic director Valery Gergiev (casting to be announced).

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