A Line Becomes a Circle
Miya Masaoka

Professor Miya Masaoka Debuts New Noh Opera

April 25, 2017

Miya Masaoka, head of the Sound Art Program at Columbia University School of the Arts, will put on a one-night performance of her piece A Line Becomes a Circle in New York on May 10.

The piece, which Masaoka previously performed at Theatre of Yugen in San Francisco and ICA and the International Contemporary Art Museum in Philadelphia, is an “excerpt from a chamber opera based on the Japanese haikus of Shiki Masaoka, a 19th-century poet, author and literary critic in Meiji period Japan,” according to the ICA website. It “features influences from Buddhist chanting combined with contemporary modalities and electronics.”

A press release for the New York premiere explains that the piece grew out of Masaoka’s recent Fulbright fellowship in Japan, where she “studied Noh with Hisa Uzawa, a National Living Treasure, and Shomyo with a monk in Tokyo.” In the work, according to the press release, Masaoka “brings the Western operatic tradition and Japanese vocal approaches together in a new compositional work, with structural and formal considerations of Noh fully present.” A short clip of the performance can be viewed here.

The performance will include Makiko Sakurai (Buddhist Shomyo chant, Noh); Ann Moss (soprano); and Chris Nappi (percussion).

Masaoka is a classically trained musician, composer and sound artist who has done “works for symphony, mixed choirs, multi-channel fixed media, telematic performances and designed interactive wearable textiles. In addition to her recent Fulbright, she has received the Alpert Arts Award, the Doris Duke Artist Award, the Map Fund, and residencies at Issue Project Room, Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle, Headlands, Harvestworks, Djerassi, Montalvo and the Electronic Music Foundation.”

Masaoka will also be featured in a performance called “Trio Three Stories” at The VIsion Festival at Judson Memorial Church on June 10.