Emmy Award winning composer Mark Izu presents an evening of American jazz infused with traditional Japanese Gagaku music and poetry about San Francisco’s Japantown.

For one performance only, Songs for J-Town will feature music from the history of San Francisco’s Japantown. The evening will begin with the story of the Sun Goddess by Brenda Wong Aoki and a blessing by Konko Priest Mas Kawahatsu, followed by an instrumental jazz performance infused with Gagaku, a 1500-year-old ceremonial Japanese music that Izu studied for 26 years under his mentor Togi Suenobu.

Saturday, April 23, 7:30pm, Presidio Theatre, San Francisco

For tickets, visit https://www.presidiotheatre.org/show/2022songsforjtown/

Creative Team

Compositions by Emmy Award Winning Mark Izu (Contrabass and Sho) with Mas Koga (Shakuhachi, Flute, Saxophones), Jimi Nakagawa (Taiko & Traps), Jim Norton (Woodwinds), Caroline Cabading (Vocals), devorah major (Spoken Word), Sara Sithi-Amnuai (Trumpet & Sheng), and Brenda Wong Aoki (Storyteller). Blessing by Rev. Mas Kawahatsu, Digital Collage by Andi Wong, Film by Tonilyn Sideco.

Pre-show Sacred Tree & Post-Show Reception

A classic yorishiro: a giant tree from Kyoto, Japan 
Photo by Chris Gladis (MShades) is marked with CC BY 2.0. 

Sacred trees, called shinboku, are a deeply ingrained part of a Japanese culture that has historically viewed itself as being united with nature, rather than separate from nature; thus, recognizing the sacredness of trees, stones, mountains, forests, and the elements has been a relatively constant theme in Japanese culture for thousands of years.

“BLESSINGS” are the wondrous gifts all people receive each day that allows us to live: sun, air, rain, food, shelter, our heartbeat.

The evening’s program will begin with a purification blessing by Reverend Masato Kawahatsu, Minister at Konko Church of San Francisco. After the performance, enjoy tea and sweets in the courtyard.

Support Provided By

This work was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission with support from Grants for the Arts, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Office of Economic Workforce Development, City and County of San Francisco. In partnership with the JapanTown Task ForceCenter for Asian American Media, and co-presented by the Presidio Theatre. Produced by First Voice.

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