Taishō Romance: A Vocal Recital Celebrating Japanese Illustrator Takehisa Yumeji

Takehisa Yumeji cover illustrations for Senoō Gakufu (Senow music scores). Left—Evening Primrose (宵待草) Tadasuke Oono (多忠亮), music / Yumeji Takehisa (竹久夢二), lyric. Right—Habanera (Carmen) Bizet / Meilhac & Halévy / Translation: Keizo Horiuchi (堀内敬三).

2024 marks the 140th birthday of renowned Japanese illustrator Takehisa Yumeji. To celebrate, Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia is hosting a vocal recital featuring arrangements from Senoō Gakufu by music producer Seno’o Kōjirō, for whom Yumeji produced hundreds of illustrations that captured the spirit of what Japanese describe as “Taishō Romance” (during the reign of Emperor Taishō, 1912-1926). Enjoy an evening of Japanese and Western songs designed to recreate the extraordinary effervescence of the era.

Sunday, March 24, 2024
7:30–8:30pm / Doors open at 7:00pm
Philadelphia Ethical Society
1906 Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA
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Admission to this special performance is free and first-come, first-seated.

This program is sponsored by Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, with the special cooperation of Opera Philadelphia and The Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

About the program

Like the Ziegfield Follies in Roaring 20s America, the Seno’o scores took Japan by storm and epitomized a vibrant new leisure culture in 1920s Japan. Seno’o’s compositions are still cherished today, and the combination of their harmony and Yumeji’s beautiful illustrations epitomizes the incandescent spirit of Taishō Japan.

Celebrated Japanese soprano Yasko Fujii and award-winning pianist Eri Kang will deliver this homage to Yumeji and Seno’o, appearing together in Philadelphia for the first time. This event is just in time for the upcoming Cherry Blossom Festival and our partner Opera Philadelphia’s new production of Madama Butterfly. Immerse yourself in the luminescence of Taishō in Philadelphia with this one-time-only event!

“Taishō Romance: A Vocal Recital” is sponsored by Dr. Felice Fischer.

About the performers

Yasko Fujii

Originally from Fukuyama, Hiroshima, Ms. Fujii is an alumna of Japan’s Keio University, and refined her operatic artistry through the Japan Opera Foundation. Her talent was recognized with a scholarship funded by the Italian government, enabling her studies at the Bologna Philarmonic Academy. Under the mentorship of Maestro Joseph Gardina, Ms. Fujii achieved international recognition by winning Saluzzo’s international opera competition.

Since making her debut in the role of Cio-Cio-San in Madame Butterfly at the Galați Municipal Theatre, Ms. Fiujii has played numerous significant opera roles in Italy, including performances in such operas as La Bohème, La Traviata, and Carmen. In Japan, Ms. Fujii has been actively involved in Italy-Japan cultural exchange projects and has been recognized for her contributions to Neapolitan classic music, receiving awards such as the Nino Rota Award and the Sergio Bruni Award. Her performances in Japan include Ikeda Riyoko’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya and the Emperor, The Shunjuza Opera Series, and From the Vatican to Japan – A Requiem of Prayer, and starred in recent productions of Zanetto and Rossini’s Otello. She also serves as General Manager of Awaji Opera Company in Japan.

Her activities are not limited to music, but also extended to a wide range of audience, including serving as a regular on Italy’s highest-rated TV program Avanti un altro! for 12 years. Ms. Fujii has been selected as one of The 100 Most Respected Japanese People in the World by Newsweek Japan and will serve as an ambassador for Italy’s Pavilion at Osaka’s World EXPO in 2025.

Yasko Fujii on Instagram >>

Eri Kang

Pianist, Eri Kang’s tone beauty and compelling musicality has been hailed by audiences throughout the world. As Japanese-born Korean American Pianist, soloist, collaborative pianist and chamber musician, she has appeared frequently at the major concert halls in New York City such as Stern Auditorium/Zankel/Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center among others. She has also performed in Europe, in the Far East such as Korea, Japan and China, throughout the United States and South America. Recently, Ms. Kang has performed with Gil Shaham on numerous occasions such as at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, in Scottsdale and on live streaming concert platform during pandemic, etc. She has received rave reviews from major Newspapers and Music Magazines such as the Los Angeles Times, Strad Magazine and String Magazine, etc. She has been also heard on NPR, WQXR, WNCN, and at numerous music festivals.

She received her bachelor’s degree from Toho School of Music, and her Master’s degree from the Juilliard School. Ms. Kang has studied piano with Martin Canin, Satoko Tokumaru, and chamber music with Felix Galimir. As a superb chamber musician, she has extraordinary knowledge of piano and strings literature which she gained from experiences working with world renown faculties and their students at the Juilliard School for many years as well as many other world leading professors and performers. Ms. Kang has served as an official pianist frequently for violin and other string instrumental competitions in the United States, Sion Valais International Competition in Switzerland, and Buenos Aires International Violin Competition, Johansen International String Competition, and among others. In addition, Ms. Kang has been the faculty of the City University of New York Brooklyn College.

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