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Newfields celebrates Japanese culture with Hub New Music

Hub New Music performs at Newfields’ Tsukimi Celebration. Photo by Samantha McCain Veach, courtesy of Newflelds.

Indianapolis, IN — In 2017, the Indianapolis Museum of Art united the diverse assets of its large campus under one name: Newfields. The campus houses not only art exhibits and the historic Lilly House, but also expansive gardens and a nature park. While still a traditional museum, Newfields also uses its gardens to create integrated artistic experiences.

This September, Newfields hosted the Tsukimi Celebration as part of their larger “Seasons of Japan” programming. The event featured the ensemble Hub New Music, which was supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund.

Throughout 2019, Newfields has highlighted the cultural diversity of Japan; the “Seasons of Japan” programming has several exhibitions, two curated culinary experiences—a tea house and a noodle shop—in the new Pop-Up gallery space, integrated displays of Japanese horticulture in The Garden, as well as several community programs and special events, including the Tsukimi Celebration.

At the celebration, Hub New Music performed “Matsuri” (meaning “festival” in Japanese): a collection of works composed between 2011 and 2019. The ensemble featured music written by Kojiro Umezaki, who was also present at the celebration. Umezaki, a virtuoso of the shakuhachi, a bamboo flute sacred to Japan, also spoke about the history of his instrument and the traditions of a “tsukimi,” or harvest moon festival. The performance of “Matsuri” together with the presentation by Umezaki complemented the community activities associated with the Tsukimi Celebration, which included stargazing with the Indiana Astronomical Society, stations for patrons to learn about and practice the arts of haiku poetry and Japanese calligraphy, and traditional food and beverage such as rice dumplings and sake.

Patrons practice Japanese calligraphy at the Tsukimi Celebration. Photo by Samantha McCain Veach, courtesy of Newflelds.

Lindsay Hamman, Director of Public Programs at Newfields, reflected on the event: “The essence of ‘Matsuri’ exemplified one of Newfields’ four core values—inclusivity—by promoting meaningful cross-cultural collaborations and interactions…[we] implemented programming that provided room for participatory and creative encounters with the Japanese culture and also further engaged key community partners, such as the Japan-American Society of Indiana.”

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