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Dancer Orlando Verdu in "NAGASAKI — Wilderness Mute."

‘Wilderness Mute’ meditates on Nagasaki bombing at Antioch

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A special performance of “NAGASAKI — Wilderness Mute” by composer Keiko Fujiie will be held Friday, Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m., in the Foundry Theater at Antioch College. A collaborative, multidisciplinary work involving music, image, poetry and Japanese Butoh dance, the work is inspired by the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.

“Wilderness Mute” is based on the poetic text of Hayashi Kyoko and draws from the firsthand accounts of victims of the bombing. Fujiie, a long-time Nagasaki resident and one of Japan’s most noted and frequently-performed composers, wrote about her work: “How many times have I been in Nagasaki in the broiling sun of August 9 … at the stroke of 11:02, the sirens ring, the bells reply, and we citizens offer a silent prayer. Even with all my empathic power, I cannot imagine that August day. … We who were not present cannot possibly understand this holocaust. … There was a time when artists could foresee the future. This kind of vision is vital. We should not be incapable of our own distress. We need to look to that future, and make desperate efforts for it.”

The performance will feature vocal soloists Danielle Mozart Steele, soprano, and Simon Barrad, baritone. Steele is currently assistant director of choral activities at Earlham College and sings in HOPE Thru Harmony at Dayton Correction under the direction of Cathy Roma. Barrad was recently a resident artist at the Marlboro and Tanglewood music festivals, and was a Fulbright scholar in Helsinki; he sang baritone in Beethoven’s 9th with the Community Chorus under the direction of James Johnston.

Dancer Orland Verdú, founder of the Oracles Theatre in Barcelona — a global creator of scenic arts — will accompany the musical and visual portions of the piece with Butoh, choreographed by Antioch alumnus Abel Coelho. Coelho was one of Fujiie’s lead collaborators — Fujiie brought “Aspects of Hamlet,” a work the two collaborated on together, to Antioch in November of 2017. Fuji and Coelho were planning to bring the work to Antioch College before Coelho’s death in December 2017.

The performance is slated in conjunction with the opening of “Nuclear Fallout: The Bomb in Three Archives,” which opens at Herndon Gallery the previous evening. Both events are open to the public.

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