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Japan Society Concludes 60th Anniversary Performing Arts Season with Premiere of Dance-Percussion Fusion

Project IX – Pleiades

** Featuring percussionist Kuniko Kato and dancer Megumi Nakamura; Directed and Choreographed by Luca Veggetti

Two Performances Only! Friday & Saturday, May 2 & 3, 2014, 7:30 pm, at Japan Society


『プロジェクトⅨ—プレイアデス』 ―ルカ・ヴェジェッティ・加藤訓子・中村恩恵

New York, NY – As the culminating event of the 60th Anniversary Performing Arts Season: Japan, the U.S. & Beyond!, Japan Society presents the North American Premiere of Project IX – Pleiades, an innovative interpretation of the music of daring 20th-century composer Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001). Performed by two distinguished Japanese artists, percussionist Kuniko Kato and dancer Megumi Nakamura, this tour de force collaboration is directed by internationally renowned Italian choreographer Luca Veggetti. Performances are Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 pm at Japan Society.

Hailed for his stage direction of works by Xenakis, choreographer Luca Veggetti weaves together two of Xenakis' most mesmerizing percussive scores in Project IX – Pleiades. The evening-length piece begins with Pléiades, driven by Xenakis’ ambitious composition for six musicians, presented as a sound installation by Kuniko Kato who performs all six parts through a multiple video projection to dancer Megumi Nakamura’s crisp yet subtle live solo. The evening culminates with Xenakis’ whimsically-rhythmic Rebonds a. and energetic Rebonds b., performed live by Kato on an array of drums, with Nakamura, who dances with and against her projected double.

Project IX – Pleiades concludes Japan Society’s 60th Anniversary Performing Arts Season, which has focused on Japan-U.S.-International collaborations. Kato, resident of Nashville is one of the most globally active Japanese percussionists and was praised by Steve Reich as a ‘first rate percussionist.’ Nakamura is an internationally known Japanese dancer since her days with Jiří Kylián’s Netherlands Dance Theater. The stage works of Italian choreographer Luca Veggetti, who is known for his love and knowledge of Japanese traditional noh theater as well as interpretation of Xenakis’ music, have been praised on both sides of the Atlantic.

“In addition to the commanding artistry, and refreshing innovation of the creative team, this work is chock full of 21st-century state-of-the-art technology that challenges the music of one of the greatest composers of the 20th century,” says Japan Society’s Artist Director Yoko Shioya. “As the culminating event in our anniversary season, this project demonstrates the type of creative courage that I so admire, and absolutely embodies one of the directions that the Society's Performing Arts Program is headed for in the future."

Before its North American premiere at Japan Society, Project IX – Pleiades will have its world premiere at Kanagawa Arts Theatre (KAAT) in Yokohama, Japan on April 19, 2014.

Kuniko Kato (Percussion) is recognized as a gifted musician, noted by audiences, conductors and composers for her astonishing virtuosity, musical insight and expressive, elegant performance style. She studied under legendary marimba player Keiko Abe at Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo and advanced her studies under Robert van Sice at Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands. In 1997, Kato recorded James Wood's Marimba Concerto in London, which was praised by the BBC, and in 2001 she performed as a guest soloist in the James Wood Portrait concert at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival which was aired on BBC radio. In 2006, Kato revived Toru Takemitsu’s legendary percussion concerto Cassiopeia as a part of the Toru Takemitsu Memorial Concert at Tokyo Opera City. She continues to perform the music of legendary composers including Franco Donatoni, Toru Takemitsu, Iannis Xenakis, Steve Reich, Unsuk Chin, and Arvo Pärt. In addition to solo performances in Asia, Europe, and the United States, she has worked with internationally renowned conductors and orchestras, such as the Saito Kinen Orchestra led by Seiji Ozawa (Japan), ICTUS Ensemble (Belgium), and Ensemble NOMAD (Japan). Kato received the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis from the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (1996) and was the first percussionist to win the 12th Keizo Saji Prize from The Suntory Foundation for Arts in Japan (2013). She has released several CDs, including her first solo album To The Earth (1999) and the acclaimed ‘kuniko plays reich’ (2011), which features unique multi-tracked arrangements of classic 1980s minimalist works by Steve Reich, personally endorsed by the composer. Her most recent CD, Cantus (2013), was hailed as "a total artistic package, shining with grace and brilliance" (All About Jazz). She is endorsed globally by Adams and Pearl and currently resides in the U.S. More at www.kuniko-kato.net.

Megumi Nakamura (Dancer) began studying ballet in 1975. In 1987, at the age of 17, she was awarded the IBM prize at the first Asia-Pacific Competition, and in 1988 received the Professional Prize at the Prix de Lausanne Competition. Nakamura joined Jiří Kylián’s acclaimed Netherlands Dance Theater (NDT) in 1991. While dancing with NDT, she performed the works of internationally known contemporary choreographers including Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, and Nacho Duato. Since leaving NDT in 1999, Nakamura has embarked on a career as an independent dancer and choreographer. She has performed at notable venues and festivals in Japan and Europe, winning numerous accolades and prizes. From 2006-07, Nakamura was a coach for the contemporary repertory of the Prix de Lausanne Competition. In 2007, she returned to Japan and opened Dance Sanga studio in Yokohama, Japan, a creative and educational dance center, which led to her receiving the Yokohama Cultural Award in 2013. She continues to coach Kylián choreographies at renowned ballet companies including Opera de Paris.

Luca Veggetti (Choreographer/Director) was born in Bologna in 1963, trained at La Scala and danced in London and the U.S. Veggetti began his career as a choreographer and director in 1990. With a keen interest in contemporary music, experimental forms, and new technologies, Veggetti has collaborated with esteemed musical ensembles and composers such as Sylvano Bussotti, Toshio Hosokawa, and Kaija Saariaho. In 1999, he became the first 20th century Italian choreographer invited to work with the legendary Kirov Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. In 2004, he was invited by Peter Martins to participate in two sessions of the New York Choreographic Institute creating November Steps with The School of American Ballet and Duo with the New York City Ballet. Since March 2007, the Works & Process series at the Guggenheim, in co-production with the Miller Theater, has produced and presented works directed/choreographed by Veggetti, notably an evening centered on the music of Toshio Hosokawa; the world premiere of Iannis Xenakis’ Oresteia in its complete version, of which The New York Times remarked, “Luca Veggetti…found a fine, expressive balance between fluidity and jaggedness, modern sensibility and imagined antiquity,” and the U.S. premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s full length dance piece Maa. He collaborated with composer Paolo Aralla on number of dance and theater pieces including Silence/Text (Joyce Theater), Four/Voice (Miller Theater), both with New York City Ballet dancers, and Play for dancer and Nothing for (Milanoltre Festival). Veggetti has received commissions to create works for the Martha Graham Dance Company, Cedar Lake NY, Spoleto Festival in Italy, The Juilliard School, and Morphoses, to name a few. His piece Meditation on Violence was awarded a Golden Mask in Moscow after its performance at the Bolshoi Theatre (2012). Upcoming engagements include the staging of Toshio Hosokawa’s monodrama The Raven at the 2014 NY PHIL BIENNIAL, a new initiative by the New York Philharmonic, and the opera Vision of Lear, also composed by Hosokawa, scheduled to premiere in Hiroshima.

Greek-French composer Iannis Xenakis, one of the most significant post-war avant-garde composers, was born in Romania in 1922 and later became a naturalized citizen of France. Having studied mathematics and worked in the field of architecture (for Le Corbusier), he pioneered the use of mathematical models in music, contributed to the evolution of electronic music, and created site-specific sound installations and compositions. Major works include Metastaseis (with independent parts for every musician in the orchestra), noteworthy percussion works Psappha and Pléiades, and Terretektorh (which positioned musicians within the audience), and large-scale multimedia works he referred to as polytopes.

In the 2013-14 season Japan Society’s 60th Anniversary Performing Arts Season: Japan, the U.S. & Beyond!, the Japan Society Performing Arts Program celebrates its kanreki, one's 60th birthday, with a range of international cross-cultural collaborations, encompassing beloved encore performances, world and U.S. premieres, legendary performers and emerging artists. In Japanese tradition, kanreki is a special celebration of longevity and rebirth, honoring a lifetime of accomplishments, taking stock of achievements, and diving into the future with renewed drive and reinvigorated purpose.

This milestone season kicked off in September with Basil Twist’s Dogugaeshi, the Society’s 2003 commission, followed by two improvisational concerts by avant-garde iconoclast musician/composer John Zorn with Ryuichi Sakamoto on October 4, as the culminating event of Zorn's citywide 60th birthday celebration Zorn@60. Next, the Society presented the English-language premiere of Yukio Shiba’s play Our Planet, in a building-wide theater event directed by Alec Duffy. The Society launched 2014 with The Room Nobody Knows, written and directed by Kuro Tanino, in a production from his company Niwa Gekidan Penino which played in January as part of The Public Theater’s 2014 Under the Radar Festival. The season continued with ancient Shomyo: Buddhist Ritual Chant, a rare, contemplative, colorful performance by two-dozen priests at St. Bartholomew's Church (March 6); and Getting Lost, by Shiro Maeda and directed by Dan Safer, as the latest installment of in the annual Play Reading Series of contemporary Japanese plays in English translation (March 31).

Since the inception of the Performing Arts Program in 1953, Japan Society has introduced more than 600 of Japan’s finest performing arts to an extensive American audience. Programs range from the traditional arts of noh, kyogen, bunraku and kabuki to cutting-edge theater, dance and music. The Program also commissions new works to non-Japanese artists, produces national tours, organizes residency programs for American and Japanese artists and develops and distributes educational programs. "At once diverse and daring, the program stands toe to toe with some of the most comprehensive cultural exchange endeavors today.” --Back Stage.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan.

Tickets & Information

Performances of Project IX – Pleiades take place Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 pm. The May 2 performance followed by a MetLife Meet the Artists Reception. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between First and Second Avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 at 42nd Street-Grand Central Station or the E and M at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street). Tickets are $30/$24 Japan Society members and can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 212-715-1258, visiting www.japansociety.org, or in person at Japan Society (M-F 11:00 am-6:00 pm and Sat-Sun 11:00 am-5:00 pm). For more information call 212-832-1155 or visit the website.

This program is sponsored by the Nomura Foundation. Additional support is provided by The Asahi Shimbun Foundation. Kuniko Kato plays Pearl and Adams exclusively. MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception support is provided by MetLife Foundation. Support for Japan Society's 2013-14 Performing Arts Season: Corporate Partner: MetLife Foundation. Major Support: Doug and Teresa Peterson, Mr. Kenneth A. Cowin, Dr. John K. Gillespie, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc., the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, an anonymous donor, and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Additional Support: Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II; Mr. Richard Royce; Howard and Sarah Solomon; Ms. Hiroko Onoyama; Ms. Kumiko Yoshii; Mr. Terry Brykczynski and Ms. Andrea Miller; Mr. Norton Belknap; The Globus Family; Geoffrey Paul Gordon and Nicole A. Gordon; Dr. Stephen J. and Mrs. Michiko Levine; Mr. James C. Nolan (deceased); Mr. Michael Romano; Mr. Alex York and Paula S. Lawrence. Endowment: Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Endowment Fund, and the Endowment for the Performing Arts, established with leadership gifts from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Globus Family, Kyocera Corporation, The Starr Foundation and Toyota Motor Corporation. In-kind Support: Transportation assistance is provided by All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. Yamaha is the official piano provider of Japan Society. Japan Society would like to thank the following corporations for their special gifts for the Performing Arts Program's 2013-14 60th Anniversary Season: Dentsu Network, Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas), Sumitomo Corporation of America, Toyota Motor North America, Inc., Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Citi, ITOCHU International Inc. , Marubeni America Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc., Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc., Mizuho Bank, Limited & Mizuho Securities USA Inc. , Nomura Holding America Inc., ORIX USA Corporation, SMBC, Sojitz Corporation of America, WL Ross & Co. LLC, Daiwa Capital Markets America Holdings Inc., IHI INC., Kaneka Americas Holding, Inc., Kawasaki Heavy Industries (USA), Inc., and Tokio Marine Management, Inc. (as of March 20, 2014).

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Media Contacts:
Bridget Klapinski, 347-246-6182, bridget@seven17pr.com
Shannon Jowett, 212-715-1205, sjowett@japansociety.org
Kuniko Shiobara, 212-715-1249, kshiobara@japansociety.org

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