Shomyo: Buddhist Ritual Chant – Moonlight Mantra

May 1, 2021
past event image
Online Traditional Music Concert

Premiere: Tuesday, March 30, 8 PM EDT—Followed by a Live Q&A   Calculate your local time

Related Online Workshop

Shomyo for Everyday Wellness
Thursday, April 8, 8:30 PM EDT

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.

Tickets: $15/$12 members

View Program

Image © Japan Society

Shomyo: Buddhist Ritual Chant is co-presented with The University of Chicago Presents, and supported by The JEC Fund, Doug and Teresa Peterson, and The Asahi Shimbun Foundation.

The University of Chicago Presents’ co-presentation is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Center for East Asian Studies Title VI Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, International House at the University of Chicago, and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

This video production is produced by the Agency of Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, as part of its Project of Cultural Economy Enhancement, and NPO Kaibunsha.

2020-2021 Performing Arts Season

Lead Sponsor:

Corporate Partner:

ORIX Stewardship Foundation

Major Support: Doug and Teresa Peterson, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.


Additional Support: Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II, Dean Jeanette C. Takamura, Mr. Alan M. Suhonen‡, The Royal Little Family Foundation, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon, Hiroko Onoyama, Mr. Norton Belknap‡, Dr. John K. Gillespie, Paula S. Lawrence, Dr. Stephen and Mrs. Michiko Levine, Susan M. McCormac, Pamela Perlman, Karen and Samuel Richardson, and Lyndley and Samuel Schwab.

Endowment: Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund and the Endowment for the Performing Arts, established with a leadership gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

In-kind Support: Transportation assistance is provided by All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd.

‡ In memoriam.

  • Saturday, May 1, 2021
  • 8:00 pm