Wednesday 21 February 2024

On an Endless Road: Itō Noe and the Women Composers of Her Time

Itō Noe
 Itō Noe 
Itō Noe (1895-1923) was a Japanese writer and feminist anarchist who was killed by Japanese state forces when she was just 28. A new song cycle by British composer Francesca Le Lohé celebrates the brief life of this brave and radical woman. 

The song cycle has been written for Japanese singer and biwa player Akiko Kubota who makes her UK debut on a tour from 5 to 9 March 2024 for International Women's Day with concerts in London (5/3/2024), Huddersfield (7/3/2024), Manchester (8/3/2024) and Leeds (9/3/2024).

Kubota's programme, On an Endless Road: Itō Noe and the Women Composers of Her Time premiered in Tokyo in December 2023 and the UK tour is being presented by Hera, an intersectional feminist opera company, in association with Illuminate Women’s Music.

Kubota plays the satsuma biwa, a Japanese stringed instrument originally played by samurai and traditionally used to accompany songs chronicling the achievements of warriors in battle. At the concert Kubota will be joined by Midori Komachi (violin) and Yura Zaiki (piano). 

As well as Le Lohé's song cycle, the programme includes music for violin and piano by three of Noe’s contemporaries who broke new ground writing in the Western Classical tradition - Kōda Nobu (1870-1946), one of the very first Japanese composers to write in the European classical tradition, Toyama Michiko (1913-2006), who forged an international career and reputation, Yoshida Takako (1910- 1956), a feminist and pacifist, who refused to write militaristic music and was jailed for her pacifist principles in 1940.

In 2015, composer Francesca Le Lohé received a Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Scholarship and relocated to Japan to study Japanese instruments, including the biwa. Her opera The Key won the Keizo Saji Prize in 2019.

Full details from the Hera website.

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