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February 1999
Grace Notes

The Music of Mihoko Suzuki


She is, perhaps, unique: a performance artist, classical composer and animal advocate whose work is at once visceral and lyrical. In 1997, Japanese-born Mihoko Suzuki composed and performed in This World (with libretto by Timothy Cramer), scored for women’s voices and tenor. The year before, she composed and conducted Litany for the Animals, scored for three sopranos, one contralto, clarinet, bassoon and cello. Litany is a compelling synthesis of drama, music, video and multilayered taped voices. In both instances, Suzuki’s work passionately evokes animal cruelty and the role of institutions—industrial, religious and scientific—in perpetuating that violence. Her works also demand that we recognize our complicity in tuning out our own cruelty towards animals. In the end, however, it is the music that remains in the memory. At times lyrical and spare and spiky and satirical, Suzuki’s music beautifully offsets or heightens the directness of her texts. The pictures on this page are from the premiere of Litany for the Animals in 1996. Photos are by Michael Gray.M.R.


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