Gagaku: Japanese Court Music and Dance at Tenri



Gagaku, Japanese court music, Heian period, Japan, NYC, Tenri, Tenri Cultural Institute, T'ang Dynasty, Tenri Gagaku Music Society of New York
Photo by George Hirose

Gagaku: Japanese Court Music and Dance

Saturday, September 24 at 7:00 p.m. (Doors open 6:30 p.m.)

Tenri Cultural Institute – 43A W. 13th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)

Admission: $15 (suggested donation)

In the 8th century, during the time of Japan’s great assimilation of Chinese culture, court music of the T’ang Dynasty, as well as the music of Korea-Manchuria and Southeast Asia, was introduced to Japan. At the Nara Court of the Japanese Heian period, the tradition of Gagaku, or “elegant music,” was developed.

Gagaku flourished during this period when it was performed at court banquets and at sacred shrines and temples. Gagaku artists maintained a secluded existence until the late 19th century when they were brought together at the Imperial Palace of Emperor Meiji in Tokyo. This music has been well preserved by the dedicated court musicians and still reflects the ideals of the Heian court.

Today Gagaku is performed by and large only on rare occasions. However, in addition to maintaining its function as sacred music, it is also being pursued as a highly refined art form, drawing the attention of numerous art students and musical performers.

The Tenri Gagaku Music Society of New York was founded in 1979 and is affiliated with Tenri Cultural Institute. The group has performed in such diverse locations as The Newark Public Library, Queens College, at street festivals in Manhattan, and even at JFK International Airport.

To make a reservation for the concert, please call 212.645.2800 or send an email to