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Where Rivers Meet

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Three works converge in Where Rivers Meet, connecting time and place from ancient Japan to contemporary America: Sumida River, Song of the Yanaguana River and Curlew River.

Where Rivers Meet is a performance and education project that brings together the international and the local, with Japanese theater arts as the primary source of inspiration. This aspirational project will culminate in a world première: a triple bill of the noh play Sumida River; a new kyogen-inspired interlude (Song of the Yanaguana River) by Carmen Tafolla, San Antonio's Poet Laureate Emerita and 2015 Poet Laureate of Texas; and Benjamin Britten’s noh-influenced “church opera” Curlew River. Where Rivers Meet will be performed four times: at the Dougherty Arts Center, Austin (Nov 3); at the University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio (Nov 5); at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and School, (Nov 6); and at the Asia Society Texas Center, Houston (Nov 8). A robust series of educational events—workshops, public lectures and demonstrations, an exhibition of noh-related items at San Antonio's Central Library, a symposium, and a film series—is designed to enhance the performances.

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get tickets for performances


November 3 (Tuesday), 7:30 p.m., Dougherty Arts Center, Austin   

November 5 (Thursday), 7:30 p.m., University of the Incarnate Word, Music Building, Chapel of the Incarnate Word (Motherhouse)

November 6 (Friday), 7:30 p.m., St. Luke’s Episcopal Church   

November 8 (Sunday), 3:00 p.m., Asia Society Texas Center, Houston


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Where Rivers Meet involves three separate performing groups—one for the noh play, one for the interlude, and one for the opera—and a host of educational events, many of them free and open to the public. Help us bring this vision to life:

Donate to Where Rivers Meet

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Exhibit       Lecture       films        workshop       symposium

Arts of Noh Exhibit


Through November 8, Marie Swartz Art Resource Center, Central Library, San Antonio – Arts of Noh: An Exhibit for “Where Rivers Meet”

Arts of Noh brings together thirteen noh masks by master artisan Hideta Kitazawa, a collection of dance fans, part of a noh costume, and books containing the words and music of noh. Like Japanese noh theater itself, most of these items are rarely seen outside Japan. Free and open to the public. (Central Library San Antonio)


Lecture/Performance: "Operatic Japan"

September 3 (Thursday), 6:30 p.m., Chiego Lecture Hall, McNay Art Museum – Operatic Japan: From Noh Theater to Madama Butterfly

Celebrate two unforgettable performances this fall—Puccini’s Madama Butterfly presented by Opera San Antonio and Where Rivers Meet presented by Theatre Nohgaku, University of the Incarnate Word, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Operatic Japan features live performances of excerpts from Butterfly and from noh theater woven together with an informative talk by musicologist Kevin Salfen, University of the Incarnate Word. Free and open to the public. (McNay Art Museum)



Water Masks, Water Songs: A Confluence of Films for “Where Rivers Meet”

September 29-October 30, 2015

Water Masks, Water Songs is a film series inspired by the main themes of Where Rivers Meet: traditional Japanese noh theater, works of composer Benjamin Britten, the health of rivers, and artistic inspiration across cultures. The film series is also a world tour, passing through the western states of the U.S., London and Scotland, Djibouti (Africa), Japan, France, and India, with a dip into the universal world of animation.

The Films:

September 29 (Tuesday), 6:15-8:45 p.m., Central Library, San Antonio – A River Runs through It


A River Runs through It (Robert Redford, U.S., 1992, 123 min., color, set in Montana) – Robert Redford directs, and Brad Pitt and Tom Skerritt star in this adaptation of Norman Maclean's semi-autobiographical novel. Set in beautiful rural Montana, this film offers a story of familial struggle and redemption through the art of fly fishing. Preceding the screening there will be a short introduction by environmental historian Dr. Jeff Crane (University of the Incarnate Word). Free and open to the public. (Central Library San Antonio)

October 4 (Sunday), 2-5 p.m., Prassel Auditorium, Witte Museum – The Unforeseen

The Unforeseen (documentary, Laura Dunn, written by Wendell Berry, 2007, color, 93 min.) – Dramatic documentary of the struggles in Austin, Texas between those attuned to environmental concerns and those who focus on land development. By documentarist Laura Dunn (Green), with a poem by Wendell Berry. A beloved body of water, Barton Springs, becomes the site for a fierce ideological battle with long-lasting consequences. With interview segments with Robert Redford, Willie Nelson, Ann Richards, as well as archival footage. A panel discussion with area experts on water usage in South Texas, moderated by Dr. Jeff Crane (University of the Incarnate Word), will follow. Free and open to the public. Cosponsored by Green Spaces Alliance. (Witte Museum)

October 23 (Friday), 5:00-7:30 p.m., UC Auditorium, UTSA – Night Mail and Beau travail


Night Mail (Harry Watt and Basil Wright, 1936, U.K., 25-min. documentary, with words by W.H. Auden and music by Benjamin Britten, black/white) – Pioneering documentary recording the drama of an overnight train transporting mail from London to Scotland.  A newly-created version of the film by Dr. Peter Martens (Texas Tech University) will allow for Britten's music to be performed with a live ensemble under the direction of Dr. Brett Richardson (University of the Incarnate Word).  Dr. Martens will introduce and analyze the film during its non-musical segments, and will provide live narration of Auden's verse.  Those words, along Benjamin Britten’s remarkable score, imitate the rhythm of the train. Now a classic. 

beautravailBeau travail (“Good Work,” Claire Denis, France, 2000, 92 min., color, set in the Gulf of Djibouti, subtitled in English) – Melville’s Billy Budd transposed to the African outpost of Djibouti and set in the world of the French Foreign Legion. Skillfully interwoven with the music of Britten’s opera. By one of the greatest living women directors, Claire Denis (35 Shots of Rum, Nenette and Boni). Intro on Britten and film by Dr. Kevin Salfen (University of the Incarnate Word). Free and open to the public; $2 parking. Cosponsored by Opera San Antonio. (University of Texas San Antonio)

October 24 (Saturday), 3:00 p.m., DoSeum – Ponyo

Ponyo(Gake no ue no Ponyo, Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2008, 101 min., color animation, dubbed in English) – This special film by the extraordinary Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) offers a Japanese twist on the familiar story of a creature from the sea who wants to become a human because of love. The balance of Nature, especially the oceans, comes into play as we enter into a mythological (and yet realistic) world through animation. Free with museum admission. Associated events for children and parents led by Jubilith Moore (Theatre Nohgaku) and master mask-maker Hideta Kitazawa. Cosponsored by St. Luke’s Episcopal School. (DoSeum)

October 25 (Sunday), 2-5:30 p.m., Room 101 (Auditorium) in Longwith Radio, Television, and Film Building, San Antonio College –The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail and Late Spring

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (Tora no ō o fumu otokotachi, Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1945/52, 59 min., black/white, subtitled in English.) – Based on a Japanese Noh play, this little-known masterpiece by the extraordinary Akira Kurosawa adds a comic element to an actual event in Japanese medieval history.
Late Spring (Banshun, Yasujirō Ozu, Japan, 1949, 108 min., black/white, set in Kyoto and Kamakura, subtitled in English.) – A sublime, and sublimely human, look at postwar Japan through the eyes of an unmarried young woman (Setsuko Hara) who cares for her widowed father (Chishu Ryū). By the inimitable classical Japanese  film director Ozu. With a pivotal scene of a noh performance, and exquisite views of Kamakura and Kyoto. Introductory comments by Dr. Linda Ehrlich (Case Western Reserve University). Post-screening discussion. Free and open to the public. (San Antonio College)

October 30 (Friday), 6:00-9:30 p.m., Rosenberg Sky Room, UIW – Guest lecture by Dr. Linda Ehrlich (Case Western Reserve University), symposium dinner, The River

The River (Le flueve, Jean Renoir, India/France, 1951, color, 99 min., in English.) – Coming-of-age tale of a British girl who grows up in Calcutta, along the banks of the Ganges River. Based on a memoir, the film offers a Technicolor vision of a family immersed in another culture. Directed by one of the world’s greatest filmmakers, Jean Renoir (Grand Illusion, Rules of the Game). Symposium dinner, guest lecture on Renoir by Dr. Linda Ehrlich (Case Western Reserve University). Post-screening discussion. Reservations required: Make your reservation here
Film Notes by series curator, Dr. Linda Ehrlich

 Mask-Making Workshop

October 22-25; 29-November 1, Art Building, University of the Incarnate Word – Mask-making Workshop led by master artisan Hideta Kitazawa

An extraordinary opportunity for artists to learn how to make a traditional Japanese noh mask—from wood block to painted performance piece. The workshop will be led by master mask-maker Hideta Kitazawa, 13 of whose masks are on display through November 8 at the Central Library, San Antonio. Limited to 10 students. Registration available on this webpage soon.


Where Rivers Meet Symposium

Where Rivers Meet Symposium
October 29-November 1, 2015
University of the Incarnate Word
The Where Rivers Meet Symposium will be held October 29 through November 1 at the University of the Incarnate Word (San Antonio, Texas). The symposium brings together Japanese traditional theater, twentieth- and twenty-first century creative responses to it (including Benjamin Britten’s and Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla’s), and scholarly and creative responses to grief, prayer, and the role water plays in shaping individuals and cultures. Sessions and events include poetry readings by major Texas poets, world premieres of new compositions by Texas composers, opportunities to see noh mask-making and costuming, an interfaith panel, live performances of Britten’s music, and three film screenings related to project themes. The featured speaker is Dr. Linda Ehrlich, who will give a talk about filmmaker Jean Renoir preceding a screening of The River (1951).
To register for the symposium and purchase tickets for the special dinner, talk, and screening of The River, please visit
Full registration with dinner: $85
Symposium registration only: $65
Student symposium registration: $35
Dinner, talk, and screening of The River only: $25
For additional information, please contact Kevin Salfen, Associate Professor of Music, UIW (
Thursday, October 29
6:45-7:30 p.m. - Registration available at UIW Music Building, 1st floor
7:30 p.m. - Where Rivers Meet Symposium Concert, sponsored by Composers Alliance of San Antonio; special exhibit in lobby of Concert Hall.
"Otoko-mai" from Japanese noh theater, played by our guests from Japan
Life and Beyond in Las Vegas by Ken Metz (premiere)
Schubert & Copland songs (Orit Eylon, voice; Bill Gokelman, piano)
3 songs from a cycle by Charles Goodhue (premiere)
Gifts from the River by William Ross (premiere)
3 jazz tunes, played by jazz quartet (Jim Waller, tenor sax; Mark Pomerantz, piano; Utah Hamrick, bass; Chad Newman, drums)
A Cup of Tea by Yvonne Freckmann (premiere)
Takiochi, traditional shakuhachi piece, played by Martha Fabrique
Birding (super flumina) Babylonis by Kevin Salfen (premiere)
2 traditional songs from Mexico, performed by Azul Barrientos
Friday, October 30 – Word, Music, Image
8:15-9:00 a.m. - Registration available at UIW Music Building, 1st floor; complimentary continental breakfast
9-10:30 a.m. - Paper Session 1 (Benjamin Britten)
            Night Mail (screening of Peter Martens’s [Texas Tech University] edit with live performance conducted by Brett Richardson, UIW)
            Michael Seiferth (Palo Alto College), “Britten and the Elegy”
            Drew Stephen (UT San Antonio), “Britten and the Horn”
            Session moderator, Eric Schneeman (UT San Antonio)
10:45-11:45 a.m. - Paper Session 2 (Poetry, Literature, Land, Water)
            Elizabeth de la Portilla (San Antonio College), “The Land as Flesh: Carmen Tafolla’s Poetry”
            Jeff Crane (UIW), “Ecologically Healthy and Literary Rivers: Creating Place through Restoration, Literature, and Poetry”
            Session moderator, Heather Sullivan (Trinity University)      
11:45-1:30 p.m. - Lunch (on your own)
1:30-3:00 p.m. – Rivers of Words: A Poetry Session
            Wendy Barker (UT San Antonio)
            Jennifer Browne (Trinity University
            Linda Ehrlich (Case Western Reserve University)
            Joshua Robbins (UIW)
            Carmen Tafolla (UT San Antonio)
            Session moderator, Tanja Stampfl (UIW)
3:00-3:30 p.m. - Complimentary refreshments, cosponsored by Women & Gender Studies (UIW)
3:30-5:00 p.m. - Making Song of the Yanaguana River, the interlude for Where Rivers Meet
            Margaret Mitchell, costume designer (UIW)
            Jubilith Moore, director (Theatre Nohgaku)
            Carmen Tafolla, writer (UT San Antonio)
            Session moderator, Jody Blake (McNay Art Museum)
6:00-9:00 p.m. - Symposium dinner, featured speaker (Dr. Linda Ehrlich, Case Western Reserve University), screening of Renoir's The River, cosponsored by Asian Studies (UIW)
Saturday, October 31 – Where Rivers Meet the World
8:15-9:00 a.m. - Complimentary continental breakfast, UIW Music Building, 1st floor, cosponsored by Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word
9-10:30 a.m. - Paper Session 3 (Waters and the World)
            Martha Ann Kirk (UIW), “Dancing the Deep Spiritual River of World Religions”
            George Diaz (Sam Houston State University), “The Smuggler’s Lament: History and Corridos de Contrabando”
            Brian Higdon (filmmaker), “After the Tsunami: Youth Filmmaking in Fukushima”
            Session moderator, Kevin Vichcales (UIW)
10:45-12:15 – Paper Session 4 (Japanese Theater)
            Jasmine Kelly (UIW), “Evolving Roles of Women in Japanese Theater”
            John Oglevee (University of Hawai’i), “Teaching and Learning Noh: Twenty-First-Century Technologies and Medieval Theater in Japan”
            Tom O’Connor (UC Los Angeles), “Noh as Transnational Performance”
            Session moderator, Lopita Nath (UIW)
12:15-1:30 p.m. – Lunch (on your own)
1:30-2:45 p.m. - Interfaith Panel: Prayer, Song, Madness, Healing
            Heather Martin (RD, LD, Soto Zen practitioner)
Judith Norman (Trinity; Editor, Jewish Peace News)
Narjis Pierre (San Antonio Muslim Women’s Association)
Fr. David Read (Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church)
Session moderator, Sr. Eilish Ryan, CCVI
2:45-3:15 p.m. - Complimentary refreshments, cosponsored by UIW Art Department
3:15-4:15 p.m. - Open workshop session with master mask-maker Hideta Kitazawa (Affiliated artist with Theatre Nohgaku)
4:15-5:00 p.m. - Open noh costuming session with John Oglevee and David Surtasky (Theatre Nohgaku)
Sunday, November 1
6:00-9:00 p.m. - Dress rehearsal of Where Rivers Meet, open to symposium attendees and event cosponsors


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