'sisila ila ila: saying goodbye'VIEW EVENT DETAILS
Presented in partnership with the National Theater and Concert Hall of Taiwan
Sunday, November 12, 2023
2 p.m. Performance
Panel Talk and Reception to Follow
Join us for the workshop premiere of sisila ila ila: saying goodbye, a unique musical work about the environment featuring whale songs, celebrated violist Hsin-Yun Huang, and a pre-recorded performance developed with the Taiwanese Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Troupe!
sisila ila ila: saying goodbye is a musical poem evoking a sense of longing for worlds that have been lost or those in the process of being lost. We follow the thoughtful meanderings of an inquisitive viola as the sound of an ice cream truck sparks her childhood memories, which come flooding back: the forgotten voice of an indigenous singer, a 1960’s Taiwanese pop song, moments from a Beethoven quartet rehearsal, music of the humpback whales. Her reminiscences come to life with imagery developed by seventh-generation shadow puppet masters from the Tung-Hua Puppet troupe. This new work represents a fresh kind of theater that transports us, visually and musically — as if in a dream— to other worlds, calling upon all to listen to one another, embrace shared experiences of life, and dissolve misperceptions of separateness.
The performance will be followed by a talk and panel discussion with David Rothenberg, acclaimed musician and author of books on music, art, and nature. The reception will be hosted by the Center for the Environmental Studies, Rice University.
Special thanks to the Houston Taipei Society for their support in producing the Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Theatre film footage at the Feng Xiong Elementary School in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
About the Artists
Recipient of the 2023 Walter Hinrichsen Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Taiwanese-American composer Shih-Hui Chen is fascinated by the narratives at the intersection of identity, culture, and tradition. In her works, she seeks to cross boundaries between music and society, between the music of distinct cultures, and between music and other art forms. Recognition of her work has come from institutions that include: American Academy in Rome, Guggenheim Foundation, and Fulbright Scholar Program. Chen’s compositions have brought her into contact with orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra. She currently serves on faculty at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University.
Stage director Doug Fitch has created productions for major opera houses around the world, including Le Grand Macabre, The Cunning Little Vixen, The Fairy’s Kiss, and Petrushka with the NY Philharmonic, as well as Gloria – A Pig Tale and Dolce la Morte, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum. His Tanglewood production of Elliott Carter’s What Next? was filmed and screened at MOMA. His production of Orphic Moments (Matthew Aucoin, Gluck) was featured at National Sawdust and Salzburg’s State Theater and The Rose, at Lincoln Center. Le Grand Macabre was remounted at the ElbPhilharmonie in Hamburg. His devised show, Punkitititi, starring Geoff Sobelle, was commissioned by the Salzburg Marionette Theater and MozartWoche2020, and returned in 2021. Fitch co-founded food-art collective Orphicorps, and wrote the books Organs of Emotion, With Skin and Hair and Orphic Fodder. He has been a professional brainstormer and Muppeteer. Fitch graduated from Harvard University.
Violist Hsin-Yun Huang has forged a career by performing on international concert stages, commissioning and recording new works, and nurturing young musicians. She is also the first solo violist to be presented in the National Performance Center of the Arts in Beijing and was featured as a faculty member with Yo-Yo Ma and his new initiative in Guangzhou. Her 2012 recording for Bridge Records, titled Viola Viola, won accolades from Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine. Huang first came to international attention as the gold medalist in the 1988 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition. In 1993, she was the top-prize winner in the ARD International Competition in Munich and was awarded the highly prestigious Bunkamura Orchard Hall Award. A native of Taiwan, she received degrees from the Yehudi Menuhin School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and The Juilliard School. She now serves on the faculties of Juilliard and Curtis and lives in New York City.
Musician and philosopher David Rothenberg wrote Why Birds Sing, Bug Music, Survival of the Beautiful, and many other books, published in at least eleven languages. He has more than forty recordings out, including One Dark Night I Left My Silent House which came out on ECM, and most recently In the Wake of Memories and Faultlines. He has performed or recorded with Pauline Oliveros, Peter Gabriel, Ray Phiri, Suzanne Vega, Scanner, Elliott Sharp, Umru, Iva Bittová, and the Karnataka College of Percussion. Whale Music is his latest book and film. Rothenberg is Distinguished Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
The seventh-generation Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Theater (established in 1820) is committed to maintaining traditional shadow puppet theater techniques and performing skills while constantly innovating and improving, expanding the infinite possibilities of shadow puppet performance. In addition to being invited to perform at home and abroad, Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Theater also works with local cultural organizations and schools to organize shadow puppet instruction, Iectures, and exhibitions. In 2009, Tung-Hua Shadow Puppet Troupe was registered nationally as Cultural Heritage, and in 2020, the director of the troupe, Mr. Chang Fu-Kuo, was honored with the title of the "Official Cultural Heritage Conservator" for shadow puppetry.
Performing Arts and Culture programs at Asia Society Texas are presented by Syamal and Susmita Poddar. Major support comes from Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, The Brown Foundation, Inc., the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, The Clayton Fund, Houston Endowment Inc., and Mid-America Arts Alliance. Generous funding also provided by The Anchorage Foundation of Texas, The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, and Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas), National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts. Additional support is by the Friends of Asia Society, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional programming to Asia Society Texas.
Performing Arts and Culture Presenting Sponsors
Syamal and Susmita Poddar
Performing Arts and Culture Program Sponsors
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.
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