World premiere performance of Japanese Noh theatre at Claremont’s Scripps College introduces
American audiences to oldest major theatre art still performed today
On October 29, 2016, Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., celebrates Japanese Noh theatre, the oldest major theatre art still performed in the present-day, with a suite of cultural and artistic events. These events will be the culmination of collaborations between visiting artists and scholars of Japanese culture and students of the Claremont Colleges. The day-long series of performances and exhibits will take audience members on a “progressive artistic feast,” giving guests a unique opportunity to sample Scripps’ offerings while discovering the campus of one of America’s most beautiful colleges.
Theatre, music, and visual arts will all contribute to this celebration of Noh. The day’s events kick off with a performance by the esteemed Noh theater troupe, Kongo Noh Theatre of Kyoto, which will present “Faces of Passion and Regret: Women in Noh” at 3pm in Balch Auditorium.
At Clark Humanities Museum, a few steps away, the world premiere of Imagined Sceneries will be presented at 4:45pm, where guests can experience a musical depiction of The Tale of Genji, a classic work of Japanese literature written by noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in the early 11th century. The composition is the work of award-winning Japanese-American composer Koji Nakano and co-commissioned by Scripps Associate Professor of Music Anne Harley and Scripps student Isabella Ramos ’17.
According to Professor Harley, the piece explores attitudes towards life, society, and nature that are universally shared regardless of time and culture. The composition is scored for solo vocalists, koto (a Japanese traditional instrument), narrators, light percussion, and electronically manipulated soundscapes recorded in modern-day Kyoto. Imagined Sceneries draws inspiration from The Tale of Genji text and from Ebina Masao’s 1953 print series Tale of Genji from the Scripps College holdings collection. Nakano, Harley and Ramos will conduct a pre-concert panel discussion at 1pm in the Clark Humanities Museum, along with co-director Giovanni Ortega, an assistant professor of theatre at Pomona College. Ramos curated an exhibition that will also appear in the space, entitled “The Tale of Genji: Reimagined.”
“With its striking juxtaposition of new and old, Imagined Sceneries will reimagine, or ‘re-sound’ Kyoto landscapes from The Tale of Genji that have since been burned out, relocated, and rebuilt,” professor Harley said. Harley noted that Nakano is the recipient of the Scripps Erma Taylor O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professorship this fall, and will be visiting from Burapha University in Thailand, where he is Head of International Affairs in the Faculty of Music and Performing Arts. The world premiere of his work will feature Claremont Colleges faculty and student performers and monologues created by students in Professor of Art History Bruce Coats’ Core III course “Creating and Recreating Genji.”
Finally, at 7:30pm, the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery will hold the opening reception for the exhibition On Stage: Japanese Theater Prints and Costumes, curated by Professor of Art History Bruce Coats with art objects from Scripps College holdings.
This celebration of Noh theater at Scripps College is co-sponsored by the Scripps Erma Taylor O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professorship, the Scripps Office of Public Events and Community Programs, the Scripps Clark Humanities Museum, the Scripps Department of Music, the Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity, the Mellon Undergraduate Research in the Humanities & Social Sciences Pre-Thesis Fellowship, the Hearst Foundation Senior Thesis Research Fellowship Fund, the Pomona College Department of Theatre for the Claremont Colleges, Pomona College President’s Office, Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages and International Relations, Pacific Basin Institute, Five College Asian Studies, Pomona Public Events, Pomona College Wig Fund for Teaching Innovation, Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures, and the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery.
Pre-Concert Panel on Intercultural Arts Collaboration with Dr. Koji Nakano (Burapha
University), Isabella Ramos (SCR ‘17), Professors Anne Harley (Scripps College) & Giovanni Ortega (Pomona College)
Scripps Clark Humanities Museum
“Faces of Passion and Regret: Women in Noh”
Kongo Noh Theatre, Kyoto
Scripps Balch Auditorium
Imagined Sceneries (2016) by Koji Nakano
Isabella Ramos (SCR ’17) and Prof. Anne Harley (SCR)
Yukiko Matsuyama, koto
Prof. David Rentz (Chaffey College), conductor
Prof. Giovanni Ortega (PO), co-director
Prof. Stacey Fraser (Cal State San Bernardino), Anne Harley, & Isabella Ramos, soprano
5C student chamber ensemble
Scripps Clark Humanities Museum
Opening Reception, On Stage: Japanese Theater Prints and Costumes
(October 29 – December 17)
Curated by Prof. Bruce Coats (Scripps Art History)
Scripps Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery
Karen Bergh, (909) 607-7177