How to watch
About The Performance
Hailing from two of Japan’s major Buddhist sects (Shingon and Tendai), the critically-acclaimed group Shomyo no Kai—Voices of a Thousand Years will showcase their mastery of a millennium-old chanting ritual with a performance that transcends sectarian boundaries. Discover one of the earliest forms of vocal music reimagined in a new work by the young female composer Yu Kuwabara, titled Moonlight Mantra (Tsuki no Kogon). With a performance set in the exceptional acoustics and grand sacred space of An’yo-in Temple, one of the oldest temples in Itabashi Ward in Tokyo, this concert offers a rare opportunity to hear this ancient oral ritual come to vibrant life. Clad in brightly colored monastic robes, the choir alternates between monotone stillness and ecstatic polyphony. The ethereal voices of Shomyo no Kai swell in powerful harmony, enrapturing the listener into a transcendent meditative state.
The performance will begin with a series of interviews with the head monk of the Shingon Buddhist sect Rev. Kojun Arai, stage director Hiromi Tamura, and composer Yu Kuwabara, and conclude with a live Q&A featuring Rev. Kojun Arai. Held in conjunction with Japan Society Gallery’s exhibition When Practice Becomes Form: Carpentry Tools from Japan, the concert will also highlight the temple’s well-preserved architectural style of vintage kanawa tsugi technique, a traditional Japanese method of joining wood without nails or glue.
This program will be available to purchase and watch through April 30, following the premiere on March 30. This online event is part of Carnegie Hall’s Voices of Hope festival.
Performed in Japanese with English subtitles.
Image: Courtesy of Japan Society