Gagaku: Sound of a Thousand Years, Lecture + Performance

Event Date: 

Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Event Location: 

  • AD&A Museum

Event Price: 

Free and open to the public.

Event Contact: 

Gagaku flyer - four Gagaku musicians playing instruments, on purple background. White text details.

Images from the event:

Gagaku performance 2022

Gagaku performance with four musicians and audience

Gagaku performance, four musicians

Description: Naoyuki MANABE GAGAKU Ensemble with Maestro Hideaki Bunno performing at UC Santa Barbara's Art, Design & Architecture Museum Courtyard.

Public lecture and live demonstration of Gagaku instruments with example from the classical repertory

Naoyuki Manabe is back in Santa Barbara, this time with his new Gagaku ensemble, composed of leading musicians from all over Japan. Manabe, who holds a degree from the prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts, is a composer, multi-instrumentalist (he plays the shō, the koto, and percussion instruments) and dancer. He has performed not only in Japan, but also in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

The other members of his Ensemble are Yoshie Kunimoto (hichiriki) and Yutaka Ōta (ryūteki and biwa). Both graduates from the Tokyo University of the Arts, they are active in Japan and internationally performing Gagaku and other types of music.

At tonight’s lecture and demonstration, they will be joined by special guest Maestro Hideaki Bunno, former Director of the Gagaku Orchestra at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Maestro Bunno is the 45th generation of a family that has transmitted the art of the shō (a type of mouth organ, an instrument unique to Gagaku) for more than 1300 years. In 2009 he received the prestigious prize of the Japanese Academy of the Arts. Maestro Bunno brought his own Gagaku orchestra to UCSB in 2020.

The Gagaku orchestra at the Imperial Palace of Japan was established in 701; its music is recognized by the government of Japan as a national intangible cultural property, and by UNESCO as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The most ancient and continuously performed orchestral tradition in the world, Gagaku is exceptional in its combination of an archaic allure with unexpected contemporary features (free rhythms, complex sound clusters, controlled dissonance). In addition to the imperial court of Japan, Gagaku is also regularly performed at Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Japan as part of their respective liturgies.

In this lecture / performance, the musicians will demonstrate the sounds and techniques of their respective instruments and offer the audience a unique perspective on the appreciation of the millenarian world of Gagaku.

This event is organized by Fabio Rambelli (University of California, Santa Barbara) with Naoyuki Manabe, in collaboration with the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at UC Santa Barbara. Generous support is provided by the International Shinto Foundation Endowed Chair in Shinto Studies, UCSB; Robert N.H. Ho Foundation; and Michael Hurley/Manitou Fund.