Beginning in 2007 with the Berlin in Lights festival, Carnegie Hall has featured the music and culture of global destinations through wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary programming in its three concerts halls and at institutions throughout New York City. But right now, perhaps no other festival may be as important as JapanNYC (March-April), which celebrates the diversity of Japanese culture in more than 40 performances and events and pays special tribute to Japan and its people in the aftermath of this month’s earthquake and tsunami.
Some of Japan’s finest classical musicians and organizations, including the NHK Symphony Orchestra, with principal guest conductor André Previn and soprano Kiri Te Kanawa; the violinist Midori in solo recital; and Bach Collegium Japan, the country’s leading period-performance instrumental ensemble, appear alongside traditional Japanese music performers, such as Yutaka Oyama and Masahiro Nitta, masters of the evocative shamisen, a three-string lute-like instrument.
JapanNYC encompasses dance, film, and the visual arts, including “Bye Bye Kitty!!!”—a survey of contemporary Japanese art—at the Japan Society (through June 12) and the special installation of a Japanese Garden at this year’s Macy’s Herald Square Flower Show (through April 10). Both are free.
A related festival, JapanOC, takes place at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, part of Segerstrom Center for the Arts (philharmonicsociety.org), and throughout Southern California, where performers range from the Tokyo String Quartet to ukelele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro.
For a list of organizations assisting in Japan Earthquake Relief, see the Carnegie Hall website.
Mario R. Mercado is arts editor at Travel + Leisure.