Orochi Ensemble: Benshi Collaboration Workshop & Performances
The Orochi Ensemble is an international group comprised of six performers: a benshi live silent film narrator, three Japanese musicians on traditional instruments, and two western musicians. As principal investigator on a grant from the Japan Foundation with matching support from Hamilton College, Professor Kyoko Omori assembled the group in 2014.
The group derives its name from the film Orochi (The Serpent: 1925), a silent movie about samurai important for its innovative camera work and anti-hero protagonist, who is portrayed by renowned leading actor, Bando Tsumasaburo, as he confronts a series of misfortunes due to his unyielding sense of honor and justice. During its weeklong collaboration at Hamilton College, the project achieved three goals:
- First, it created a new benshi narration and musical score for the Orochi movie through a unique collaboration among internationally renowned artists.
- Second, it offered a public performance of these new artistic productions. See a sample video of the live performance at http://vimeo.com/142177996
- Third, the Orochi Ensemble joined a workshop that involved Hamilton College faculty and students, as well as members of local communities from the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees and the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY. During this workshop, the ensemble created live music for a documentary film about refugees in Utica titled, Crossroads in Context (directed by Omori in collaboration with DHi and Hamilton students). After the workshop, the Orochi Ensemble and Hamilton benshi students performed at a screening of Crossroads in Context to a packed Bradford Auditorium on the Hamilton College campus.