Shomyo: Buddhist Ritual Chant - Moonlight Mantra

March 30, 2021 8:00 pm
Online Traditional Music Concert

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

Co-presented with University of Chicago

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 Mantra of Moonlight (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 Japan, 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 lecture on the history of shomyo led by musicologist Steven G. Nelson, a professor at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and conclude with a live Q&A featuring the head monks of both Buddhist sects, Rev. Kojun Arai and Rev. Koshin Ebihara. 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. A related online Workshop, Shomyo for Everyday Wellness will be held on Thursday, April 8, 8:30 PM EDT.

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

Shomyo: Buddhist Ritual Chant is produced by NPO KAIBUNSHA, co-presented with The University of Chicago Presents, and supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, Doug and Teresa Peterson, The JEC Fund and The Asahi Shimbun Foundation.

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.