Festival will celebrate Japanese and Japanese American arts -- with Butoh, jazz and anime

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A variety of Japanese and Japanese American arts -- including Butoh and jazz, as well as anime -- will be celebrated during ‘JapanOC,’ a seven-month festival presented by Carnegie Hall, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Programs will feature traditional and contemporary music, dance, theater, film and visual art. Among the highlights will be tributes to composer Toru Takemitsu and sculptor-designer Isamu Noguchi by artists including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Tokyo String Quartet.


Events will run from October through April at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, which is part of the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa, and at other venues in Southern California. A JapanNYC festival will be held in December and next spring in New York City.

JapanOC -- which is sponsored by South Coast Plaza and the Segerstrom Foundation -- follows a festival last year that celebrated Chinese culture. Music offerings include:

Guitarist Kazumi Watanabe playing selections from Takemitsu’s avant-garde works on Dec. 19 at OCPAC’s Samueli Theater.

Violinist Midori appearing at a question-and-answer session presented by the Japanese American National Museum at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum in Los Angeles in January. She also will give a March 9 recital at the Samueli Theater.

The string quartet Brooklyn Rider headlining the 2011 Laguna Beach Music Festival on Feb. 10 at the Laguna Playhouse.

Gustavo Dudamel leading the L.A. Philharmonic in a program of Takemitsu’s ‘Requiem for Strings’ and works by Webern and Bruckner on March 5 at OCPAC’s Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

An ensemble performing gagaku -- classical music of the Japanese imperial court -- on March 19 at the Samueli Theater.

Ukulele musician-composer Jake Shimabukuro joining the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain on March 24 at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Pianist and composer Toshiko Akiyoshi and her husband, tenor saxophonist Lew Tabackin, playing jazz on April 11 at the Samueli Theater.

The Tokyo String Quartet performing Takemitsu’s ‘A Way a Lone’ and other works on April 19 at the Samueli Theater.

Dance offerings include:

Japan’s Sankai Juku Butoh company performing Oct. 30 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

The Martha Graham Dance Company presenting a four-day residency Feb. 24-27 at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa that will include performances of two Graham ballets with original sets by Noguchi on Feb. 26 and 27 and classes that are open to the public.

Theater offerings include:

Japan’s Zenshinza Kabuki Theatre performing two kabuki classics Nov. 5 and 6 and a historical drama Nov. 6 and 7 at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo.

Orange County High School of the Arts students presenting Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Mikado’ on Feb. 3 and 4 at a location to be announced.

Events and exhibitions include:

‘Kotohajime’ -- a blend of Japanese and Western performing arts and New Year’s traditions -- presented by the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center on Jan. 2 at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre

An exhibition of more than 500 pieces of Japanese art from the collection of Etsuko and Joe Price at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana from Feb. 25 to June 5.

A retrospective of Noguchi’s work -- drawn largely from the holdings of the Noguchi Museum in New York -- at the Laguna Art Museum from Feb. 27 to May 15. A companion exhibit will commemorate the creation of ‘California Scenario,’ the Costa Mesa garden designed 30 years ago by Noguchi under a commission from philanthropist Henry T. Segerstrom.

The Orange County Film Society screening a Japanese anime feature film Nov. 2 and the Newport Beach Film Festival offering a Japanese cinema series in April.

JapanOC ticket and program information is available at

-- Karen Wada

Photos, from top: Sankai Juku Butoh company. Credit: Courtesy of Pomegranate Arts. Zenshinza Kabuki Theatre. Credit: Courtesy of JACCC