Set One: Jen Shyu's Nine Doors

Set Two: JT Bates



Jen Shyu's Nine Doors:


Jen Shyu’s Nine Doors is a powerful and ecstatic piece that evokes at levels both personal and global. Nine Doors was inspired by the loss of Shyu’s friend Sri Joko Raharjo “Cilik,” who died with his wife and infant son in an automobile accident at the age of 30. Raharjo was a master of the Javanese art of shadow puppetry called wayang kulit. His 6-year-old daughter, who survived the crash, is the central character in Shyu’s piece. Time stops as she encounters powerful female legends—from the Wehali Kingdom of Timor to the Korean folkloric myth of Baridegi, the mother of all shamans—who become her guides. A mysterious phone booth in a gardener's yard in Otsuchi, Japan, which has become a comfort to the families who lost loved ones in the 2011 Tsunami, also enters into the story, with the gardener having given Shyu permission to compose a piece with his poetry titled “Phone of the Wind” (“Kaze no Denwa”). 

Jen sings, dances, and plays Taiwanese moon lute, Korean gayageum, piano, and Japanese biwa, in order to express this multi-layered and transformative story. Time stops as Jen (as Lavan Pitinu) encounters a series of mythical guides based on epic legends from different parts of the world that help her through the grief of losing her family, where she is able to seek help from a universal family. Starting and ending in English, Jen’s native language, while also sung in Indonesian, Javanese, Taiwanese, Mandarin, Tetum, and Korean, the work reflects not only the diversity of America, but also the parallels that exist between life and death, different cultures, and the importance of empathy over destructive assumptions that divide humanity.

Nine Doors incorporates Shyu’s 15 years of study of traditional music from five countries: epic storytelling (Pansori), East Coast shaman music (DongHaeAhnByeolShinGut), and Binari, usually performed as a blessing for an audience, all from Korea; music from sub-districts Aileu and Ataúro from East Timor; Hengchun Folk Song with moon lute from Taiwan; Ledhekan, which combines Javanese dance with improvisational singing (Sindhenan) from Indonesia; and the "speaking-the-song" or "katari" with Japanese biwa, the rare 4-stringed instrument originally used by monks and priests.

Jen Shyu: Composition, vocals, Taiwanese moon lute, Korean gayageum and soribuk drum, Japanese biwa, piano, dance, sound design, choreography, Timorese gong and Korean gong (gwaenggwari)
Alexandru Mihail: Director
Kristen Robinson: Set & Props Designer
Naoko Nagata: Costume designer
Danang Pamungkas: Javanese “Bedhaya Pangkur Tunggal” choreography
Satoshi Haga: Co-director with Shyu of Song of Silver Geese (2016), which inspired much of Nine Doors
Photos by Steven Schreiber

New York Times Nine Doors review: https://t.co/X4aGHnOvXv


Jen Shyu:

2016 Doris Duke Artist, Fulbright scholar, groundbreaking multilingual vocalist-composer, multi- instrumentalist, dancer JEN SHYU (徐秋雁) has been named “one of the most creative vocalists in contemporary improvised music” (The Nation). Born in Peoria, Illinois, to Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrants, Shyu has carved out her own beyond-category space in the art world. Named 2017 DownBeat Critics Poll Rising Star Female Vocalist, she’s worked with Nicole Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Vijay Iyer and has produced 7 albums, her duo album with Mark Dresser making her the first female and vocalist as bandleader on Pi Recordings. Her last album {Sounds and Cries of the World} (Pi Records) was voted among the “Top 10 Best Albums of 2015” by New York Times and The Nation, among others. A Stanford graduate dedicated to traditional music study, she has performed her music at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, BAM, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. She’s won commissions and support from MAP Fund, Jerome Foundation, Chamber Music America, New Music USA, Asian Cultural Council. NYC-based Shyu is currently touring her new solo work {Nine Doors} and has just released her New York Times' Best Albums of 2017 critically-acclaimed album {Song of Silver Geese} on Pi, kicking off a 50-state U.S. tour of performances and workshops.