A Musical Banquet is a multi-disciplinary performance piece featuring Hideki Yamaya and Emily Lau, as inspired by A Musical Banquet, a collection of twenty lute songs published in 1610 in London. This project combines historical love songs from the collection with new and related work: four tableaus set in different eras of American history, each featuring a character whose mother tongue is a language represented in A Musical Banquet.
Hideki Yamaya is a performer of lutes, early guitars, and early mandolins currently based in New Haven, Connecticut, and a former Portland resident who remains deeply connected to the city in spirit and through his work. He is the Artistic Director for Portland’s Musica Maestrale, an early music collective, and an internationally acclaimed musician who has performed in Canada, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, and Italy.
Composer, singer, and performance artist Emily Lau fuses elements of ancient music with contemporary techniques to tell unique aural and visual stories. She is the Artistic Director for Portland’s Big Mouth Society, and a Grammy-nominated musician who tours nationally with leading early and new music ensembles. Both Musica Maestrale and Big Mouth Society prioritize reviving and sharing rich sources of music of exceptional quality. Yamaya and Lau are among the foremost experts in their respective areas nationally, and A Musical Banquet is their first full-scale collaboration after years of playing music together.
The book, A Musical Banquet, is over 400 years old and remarkable in that it comprises songs of exceptional quality in four languages: English, French, Italian, and Spanish. The songs deal with subject matter that we can relate to today: life, death, love, and loss. But until now, much of this music has been unknown, not only to the general public but to avid concertgoers as well. This project revives the book’s formerly unperformed and unheard early music pieces, and juxtaposes them with contemporary storytelling, four tableaus set in different eras of American history, each featuring a different female character, immigrants whose mother tongue is a language represented in the book. The story of each character is told through the songs and through newly written dialogue and narration by Lau.
Our production of A Musical Banquet will be the world premiere of the newly re-envisioned collection in its entirety, and as such offers a rare opportunity to Portland audiences.
This project is funded in part by a Project Grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
Portions of Lau and Yamaya's performance will be live-broadcast at Thursday @ 3 on All Classical Portland on May 30th.