By Glady Lee
Just after launching the Mosaic Festival, the first of its kind in the Bay Area, Mosaic America is set to feature more original programming for its expanding audience. Especially in the light of untold grief during the Pandemic and during this seasonal time of reflection, Mosaic America envisions new ways of looking at our shared human experience, of starting the healing process. On November 1 at the San José Woman’s Club, audiences are invited to learn about Mosaic America’s mission through Music en Memoriam, a musical celebration performed by Common Sounds Ensemble.
Regarding the collaboration aspect of this event, Mosaic Fellow Ray Furuta, explains, “Through ‘Music en Memoriam’ my desire is to present a musical lens to view rituals from around the world that commemorate the Dead.”
Like all of Mosaic America’s events, the performance is only one piece of the experience. The other piece is how we, as the audience, come to our understanding of the given context. In the case of Music en Memoriam, how do we view our own rituals as a common thread through other cultures? We welcome you to bring pictures of your departed dear ones to be placed on the altars which will be set up at the venue. (Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about this.)
“Precious Scars,” Ray Furuta’s Mosaic collaboration from 2019, paid homage to the Japanese American internment story in the context of other immigrant stories of past and present. As an audience member who experienced the live event, I was able to see the thread between history and my own complicated story of family separation through America’s immigration policies. While experiences like this can bring up painful memories, the acknowledgment of these stories create powerful spaces of interaction that may have only been done before in academic environments.
With Music en Memoriam, Mosaic America has continued the process of understanding our commonalities, this time around the rituals that help us come to terms with the passing of loved ones, and Dia de los Muertos. Composers and performers of different backgrounds coming together to create original music on this subject is a starting point. Where it leads is up to the audience, who are invited to not only consume this art, but to see and hear it as an introduction of viewing death rituals as a connection to the living people around them.
Post event update: Presented in partnership with San José Museum of Art, this Common Sounds Ensemble performance was quite an experience at the San Jose Woman’s Club. Original music showcased Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) through the lens of different cultures from the Middle East, China, Japan, Vietnam, and Appalachian-America fused with traditional Mexican music. Watch this encore performance followed by a discussion of remembrance rituals in African and Filipino cultures with panelists Chike Nwoffiah and Keesa Ocampo.
Ray Furuta (Western Flute & Shinobue)
Amr Selim (French Horn)
Taylor Ackley (Mandolin)
Van Anh Vo (Dan Tranh)
Joel Davel (Marimba Lumina)
Kai Eckhart (Electric Bass)
Jimi Nakagawa (Taiko)
Mike List (Tabla & Frame Drum)