Brenda Wong Aoki & Mark Izu’s Kabuki Cabaret
When: Friday, October 28th
Cost: $20 advance, $25/door
Ticket Info: BUY TIX NOW!
Brenda Wong Aoki – Writer/Performer
Mark Izu – Composer, Contra Bass, Sho, Sheng
Anthony Brown – Multiple-Percussion
Shoko Hikage – Koto
PJ Hirabayashi - Taiko
Janet Koike – Taiko
Mas Koga – Shakuhachi, Saxophone
Moy Eng – Vocalist
Haunting dramatic performance by Brenda Wong Aoki with original music by Emmy Award-Winning composer Mark Izu, in a Kabuki Kabaret of traditional Japanese ghost legends. Featuring Grammy nominated multi-percussionist Dr. Anthony Brown, natori koto master Shoko Hikage, Mas Koga Best Latin Jazz flutist 2011, vocalist Moy Eng and Janet Koike with Kathryn Cabunoc on Taiko.
Kabuki Jazz Kabarets were conceived and created by Aoki and Izu, who have developed a symbiotic blend of east and west, spoken word and music. Mark Izu, an Emmy Award-winning jazz composer, studied and performed Gagaku (Japanese Imperial music) with master Togi Suenobu for over twenty years. Writer/performer Brenda Wong Aoki is a student of Noh and Kyogen and a three-time NEA Theater Fellow. She is one of the premiere storytellers in America and an award-winning playwright recognized for her multidisciplinary works combining contemporary monodrama with traditional arts.
About Japanese Ghost Legends
In Noh theatre, the dead are more important than the living because the actions of the dead are what brought us to where we are today. Japanese ghosts are usually female - upset females. They are portrayed without feet because they have lost their connection to the earth. They are passionate women on a mission, so filled with love, jealousy or rage; they won't go peacefully to into the night.
Japanese believe ghosts are people who have died with an unpaid On. On means “debt” or “obligation,” but it is much more complicated. An On carries with it a sacred vow that this debt be repaid. An unpaid debt is passed down to your children and to their children. The On begins to grow, like a snowball into an avalanche with each successive generation. Finally, whole families, villages, countries live under the dark cloud of an unpaid on, because by then, nobody knows how to fix it.
This is where storytellers come in. Storytellers help people remember what happened in the past and how those actions affect the present. Because like autumn leaves falling year after year, people can repeat the same mistakes, follow the same patterns, and create the same stories/histories over and over again. But storytellers remind us that we can change our fate. Love stories soften our hearts. Tales of wonder awaken awe in the world around us. Heroes bring out the heroic in the listener and remind us that one good person can change the world. Ghost stories remind us that what remains after we are dead are the consequences of our actions.
Brenda Wong Aoki (Artistic Director, Writer, Performer)
Brenda Wong Aoki creates and performs monodramas. Her work weaves together Japanese Noh and Kyogen theater, dance and everyday life experience. Her monodramas have been produced in such venues as the Kennedy Center, New Victory Theater on Broadway, Hong Kong Performing Arts Center, the Adelaide International Festival in Australia, the Esplanade in Singapore, the Graz Festival Austria and the Apollo. Three National Endowment Theater Fellowships, Four Dramalogue Awards, a Critics’ Circle Award, and continued ASCAP Innovation Awards for new libretto, attest to Brenda’s work which includes her book/CD, Mermaid Meat and Other Japanese Ghost Stories which was released in Tokyo 2008. The Queen's Garden (1999) and Tales of the Pacific Rim (1990), won INDIE awards for Best Spoken Word. Legend of Morning Glory, a kabuki love story, an oratorio for Taiko and storyteller is her latest release. Of Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and Scottish descent, Aoki’s bloodlines inspire her plays, which have been performed in the United States, Australia, Austria, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and include Obake: Tales of Spirits Past and Present, The Queen's Garden, Random Acts, Mermaid, Tales of the Pacific Rim, Skin Privilege, Kuan Yin: Our Lady of Compassion, Uncle Gunjiro’s Girlfriend and All We Leave. She is a member of the Dramatist Guild, a trustee for the Museum of Performance and Design and has lectured at the Smithsonian, Stanford University, Kenyon College, U. Mass Amherst, International House, Tokyo, & Sapporo University. She graduated and was a faculty member of Theater Arts at UCSC. Brenda has deep roots in San Francisco. Her paternal grandfather was a founder of Japantown in the 1890’s, and her maternal grandmother was vice president of the first Chinatown garment union in the 1920’s. Brenda is currently working on a 2012 pageant play about the lost continent of MU. More info about brenda wong-aoki
Mark Izu (Composer)
EMMY winning composer Mark Izu, a third generation Japanese-American, has fused the traditional music of Asia with African-American improvisation. Izu plays acoustic bass as well as several traditional Asian instruments such as the sheng (Chinese multi- reed instrument) and sho (Japanese multi-reed instrument). Izu has gained international recognition for developing a new musical genre, Asian American Jazz, and has performed with artists such as James Newton, Steve Lacy, Zakir Hussain, Kent Nagano, George Lewis, Cecil Taylor, Anthony Brown, and Jon Jang.
Izu has composed scores for film, live music concerts and theater. In 2009 Izu won an EMMY for Out Standing Music for his score in Bolinao 52. His film scores include Steven Okazaki’s Academy Award-winning Days of Waiting; Emmy-winning documentary, Return to the Valley; and a new score for the DVD release of Sessue Hayakawa’s 1909 masterpiece, The Dragon Painter (Milestones DVD - 2007). His theater scores have been performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Sundance Festival and he was awarded a Dramalogue Award for Best Original Music & two INDIE Awards for best CD. His recordings include The Queen’s Garden (INDIE Award 1999), Tales of the Pacific Rim (INDIE Award 1990), Circle of Fire (Top 10 picks of the year, SF Bay Guardian), and recordings with the Grammy nominated Asian American Orchestra. Izu’s CD Threading Time featuring masters Togi Suenobu (Gagaku) and Zakir Hussain (tabla) was released in Tokyo in 2007. Izu’s other awards include Meet the Composer, Asian Business League Artist Award, Rockefeller MAP, National Endowment for the Arts, and San Francisco Arts Commission, Izu was a founding faculty member of Stanford’s Institute of Diversity for the Arts in 2002. In 2007 Aoki & Izu received the US/Japan Creative Arts Fellowship to Japan sponsored by the NEA and the Bunkacho.
More info about Mark Izu
PJ Hirabayashi (Taiko, Movement)
PJ Hirabayashi is a founding member and Artistic Director of San Jose Taiko. She directs the performing company's artistic programming, workshops, master classes, and audition process. PJ is recognized for her distinctive performance and teaching style that combines movement, dance, drumming, fluidity, joy, and energy. One of her current projects, "TaikoPeace", has evolved to extend the reach of the Charter for Compassion, a document that transcends religious, ideological, and national difference. Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter inspires worldwide community-based acts of compassion.
Dr. Anthony Brown (Multi-percussion)
Percussionist, composer, ethnomusicologist and Guggenheim Fellow Dr. Anthony Brown is a seminal figure in the contemporary California creative music scene, directing the Asian American Orchestra in addition to performing with some of the foremost musicians in jazz today. Since 1998, his Orchestra has received international critical acclaim for blending Asian musical instruments and sensibilities with the sonorities of the jazz orchestra. The orchestra's recording of Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn's Far East Suite received a 2000 GRAMMY nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance.
Anthony Brown has received grants, fellowships, awards and commissions from, among others, Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, Meet the Composer, National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, TheatreWorks, and the MacDowell Colony. He has presented master classes, lectures and scholarly papers at the National Academy of Sciences, Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress, Columbia University, the Franz Schubert Conservatory (Vienna, Austria), and at every campus of the University of California. Dr. Brown has articles in The New Grove Encyclopedia of Music and The Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History published with Simon & Schuster Macmillan. His book, Give the Drummer Some! The Development of Modern Jazz Drumming, is forthcoming from the University of California Press.
Shoko Hikage (Koto) began playing Koto at the age of three. Hikage studied koto under Chizuga Kimura of the Ikuta-ryu sokyoku seigenkai in Akita Prefecture, Japan. In 1988, Hikage graduated from Takasaki college with a major in koto music, and she was accepted as a special research student in Sawai Sokyoku In under Tadao and Kazue Sawai where she subsequently received her master's certificate. In 1992, she moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to teach koto at the Sawai Kotot Kai Hawaii and the University of Hawaii koto class. In 1997, she moved to San Francisco, where she continues her pursuits in improvisational dance and music. www.ShokoHikage.com
Mas Koga (Saxophone/shakuhachi) Multi instrumentalist Masaru Koga has been a part of the creative music scene in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 15 years. He has traveled, recorded, and performed nationally with artists such as Hafez Modirzadeh, Francis Wong, Anthony Brown, Royal Hartigan, John Carlos Perea, Wayne Wallace, Kat Parra, and Fred Ho. He is also the director of SambAsia, an award winning San Francisco-based community samba school, teaching and performing Brazilian drums. Masaru’s goal is to create music that respects traditions and goes beyond styles and idioms, and ultimately help diminish all other forms of social boundaries. In 2011, he was awarded Best Latin Jazz Flutist.
Janet Koike’s (Taiko, Percussion) work and compositions have highlighted San Jose Taiko’s national concert tours from Arsenio Hall to Carnegie Hall. Blending traditional training with custom built techno taiko, she has performed with D'CuCKOO at the Cleveland Bicentennial and Macy's Passport with Cirque du Soleil. Janet has toured Indonesia with Keith Terry's Body Tjak, Hong Kong "New Dimensions Festival" with Mark Izu, and Brenda Wong Aoki, she has and performed with Jennifer Berezan, Kenny Endo, Ondekoza's Marco Lienhard, Anthony Brown with the Asian Jazz Orchestra and Theatre Yugen. She is the founder of Maze Daiko, an ensemble that combines an exciting mix of traditional and non-traditional instruments and rhythms with the physical elegance and powerful sounds of taiko. Maze Daiko just returned from performing at the North American Taiko Conference in LA.
Janet is also the founder of the Rhythmix Cultural Works (RCW) a new community art center in Alameda
Moy Eng (Vocals)
A cultural bureaucrat by day, Moy Eng is a jazz and classical singer during nights and weekends. She studied classical voice and piano as a child. After a long hiatus, Moy began singing and learning the American Songbook during her three-hour commute on New York City's West Side Highway. More recently, she performs in intimate and larger venues in California including San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Jose and Los Angeles, musically cruising through jazz, classical, funk, and r&b. Moy can be heard also on spoken word artist Diem Jones' latest CD, Spirit of Oui track: "Haiti Revisited", and on fundraising commercials for KFJC.
Drinks & Concessions will be available at the show.