The Fresno Philharmonic is launching a multi-season Cultural Crossroads series of commissioned works that will celebrate the diverse cultures of the region, the Philharmonic announced this week.
The series will kick off in February with “Kisetsu” (the Japanese word for seasons), with a new composition by California composers Hitomi and Erika Oba and texts by local organic farmer and author David “Mas” Masumoto.
The texts tell the story of Japanese immigration to the U.S. through four generations of Japanese women — Issei, Nisei, Sansei, and Yonsei — interweaving themes of time, nature, and memory.
Masumoto’s books include “Epitaph for a Peach” and his latest which was published this year, “Secret Harvests: A Hidden Story of Separation and Resilience on a Family Farm.”
Hitomi and Erika Oba are sisters and are both graduates of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, which is collaborating for the first time with the Fresno Philharmonic on the Cultural Crossroads series.
Philharmonic Marks 70th Anniversary
The Philharmonic and Academy are jointly commissioning the work, which will debut Feb. 15 and 16 as part of the Philharmonic’s 70th anniversary series.
The premiere coincides with the annual February 19 Day of Remembrance of Executive Order 9066, which led to one of the darkest chapters in the nation’s history, the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II.
The Cultural Crossroads series is part of the Philharmonic’s efforts to reach out across the Valley’s cultures while cultivating the next generation of orchestra composers.
Rei Hotoda, the Philharmonic’s music director and herself a first-generation Japanese American, said she feels a personal connection to Kisetsu: “Ever since meeting Mas Masumoto and his family, I have wanted to find a way to capture in music the history he embodies and keeps alive in his writing.”
Support for the Cultural Crossroads: Kisetsu Project is provided by the JA Community Foundation, Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, Dr. and Mrs. Bernard K. Karian, John and Pam Lamborn, Mrs. Patricia Libby, Dr. J.D. Northway, and Justus and Elizabeth Schlichting.