Tokaido Road: a commisioner’s perspective

Boy, am I proud of this. Here’s the score and instrumental parts for Tokaido Road.

The Road starts here...

The Road starts here…

Tokaido Road is Nancy’s words, Nicola’s music, but I have a strong bond with this work. I like to think that I gave it some space to grow and goals to aspire to. I’m like a surrogate mother or doting aunt – there’s a duty of care in commissioning a new work. You have to nurture it. You want to see it flourish, contribute to a culture, speak to an audience, to be representative of its time. And like all new things, you want it to develop, grow, mature.

Tokaido Road was born of an artistic idea, a deep curiosity and an ambitious desire to change things. The relationship between Hiroshige’s prints and Nancy’s poems was already rich enough in artistic possibilities. The opera quickly became a framework for a set of questions: what is the ‘complex and murky relationship’ that exists between the arts? Tokaido Road is a study in extended ekphrasis, a term that describes the use of one art form to ‘comment on’ or ‘illustrate’ another. How does this translate across a second culture? I wanted to present this powerful cross-cultural, cross-arts synergy as a rich and highly accessible source of pleasure, entertainment and education rather than a misunderstood and sometimes marginalized form of art. I wanted to make casual media labeling (such as ‘fusion’, ‘experimental’, ‘fringe’), often used as a result of uncertainty surrounding music that juxtaposes different cultures, redundant. I wanted to create a project that would appeal to as many people in as many ways as possible.

Anyone who had raised funds for new music will empathise with the immense hard work and perseverance needed to enable a project to happen. But the journey has fascinated me – there are challenges and opportunities to be creative at every level, even from a project-management perspective. Today marked the end of the beginning: now the journey takes a new path and I can’t wait to see where it will take us.

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Premiere at Cheltenham Festival now online

High excitement in the boardroom at Tokaido Road Towers this afternoon, as the programme for this year’s Cheltenham Festival has gone live today – including the première of our chamber opera.

chelt_music_fest_society_logoThe event is on Sunday 6 July at the Parabola Arts Centre, starting at 4.30pm.

Tickets will be available soon. Find out more on the Cheltenham Festival website here.

Update: tickets will be available from the Cheltenham Festival website from 24 March. Read more about Tokaido Road from WildKat PR online here.

#IWD2014: Tokaido Road celebrating women in the creative industries

International Women’s Day is all about celebrating inspirational women and their achievements. As the website declares,

International Women’s Day events honour and celebrate the achievements of women all around the world, ranging from small random informal gatherings to large highly organised events.

Nicola & Nancy 2As part of this global celebration, here at Tokaido Road we are delighted to be championing an innovative, cross-disciplinary creative project that is predominantly female-led.

Brainchild of Dr Kate Romano, Deputy Head of Academic Studies at the Guildhall School of Music Drama, Tokaido Road is written by composer Nicola LeFanu, whose works have been performed, recorded and broadcast worldwide and who is a former Professor of Music and Head of Department at the University of York, with a libretto by Nancy Gaffield, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent. The chamber opera is directed by Caroline Clegg, Associate Director at Welsh National Opera, a freelance director working in theatre and opera and founder of the highly successful, award-winning Feelgood Theatre Productions.  And the set and costume design is by Kimie Nakano, who has a highly successful and international career as a designer in theatre, opera, film, dance and television, including working with Oscar winning Costume Designer Emi Wada on Peter Greenaway’s Eight and a Half Women and with the Akram Khan Dance Company on the ‘Vertical Road’ world tour.

A genuinely collaborative project, realised by an exciting team of women who are leading practitioners in ther respective fields. Tokaido Road is excited to be a platform for their achievements.

Hitting the road: launching Tokaido Road

Welcome to the  T O K A I D O  R O A D  blog!

We’re very excited to be launching Tokaido Road, a unique cultural experience embracing contemporary music, opera, dance, mime and art. Okeanos are embarking on a journey of discovery with a wonderful team of practitioners, creators, innovators and technicians. Here, we’ll keep you up to date on the sights, sounds and our adventures as we explore Tokaido Road in a literary, visual, musical and dramatic travelogue. We’ll bring you interviews, musical extracts, literary insights, articles about the art which inspired the opera and much more.

Do please join us, follow us on Twitter and catch us at one of the many ‘Stations’ along the way if you can; we will be touring in 2014 and 2015 from Cheltenham to Canterbury and Tokaido Road Outreach events celebrating the music of arts and cultures will begin to appear en route.

‘I walk forward turning round, like the pilgrim who carries a mask on his back.’
– Nancy Gaffield (from Tokaido Road)

‘It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.’
― Ernest Hemingway

Don’t forget you can read more about the project on the About page, and make sure you follow us on Twitter too!

Welcome along the Road…