The University of Chicago Presents and the Japan Society are co-presenting an evening of Buddhist ritual chanting, or shomyo, by the critically acclaimed group Shomyo no Kai-Voices of a Thousand Years. Hailing from two of Japan’s major Buddhist sects (Shingon and Tendai), two dozen monks will perform this age-old ritual chant in a performance that transcends sectarian boundaries.
The monks will perform traditional shomyo, one of the earliest forms of vocal music that made its way to Japan in the 6th century, as well as a new work titled Moonlight Mantra (Tsuki no Kogon) by young Japanese composer Yu Kuwabara. This pre-recorded cinematic concert is set against the backdrop of An’yo-in Temple, one of the oldest temples in Tokyo’s Itabashi district, and will begin with a commentary on the history of shomyo by Kojun Arai, the one of the founders of Shomyo no Kai. , the production manager, Hiromi Tamura, and the composer. The performance, broadcast with English subtitles, will premiere on Tuesday, March 30 at 7:00 p.m. CDT, followed by a live Q&A with the head monks of the two Buddhist sects.
On Thursday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. CDT, the monks of Shomyo no Kai are offering a rare opportunity to practice shomyo in a virtual workshop on using Buddhist ritual chanting as a form of meditation. Monks will share how their daily practice of this art form, believed to have originated in India before entering Japan in the 6th century, informs and enhances their sense of well-being.
Concert tickets are $15 and workshop tickets are $5; both events are free for UChicago students. More information and tickets are available at chicagopresents.uchicago.edu.