Echoes of calling

Scanlon forges Galway-Japan ties

A still from the performance of “Echoes of Calling,” which is being streamed this week. HIROYASU DAIDO

By Irish Echo Staff

Seamus Scanlon, Galway writer and librarian at the City College of New York, is part of the current Japan-Ireland project “Echoes of Calling.” His first project in Japan, “The McGowan Trilogy,” started at Nancy Manocherian’s cell theater (directed by Kira Simring) as part of Origin’s First Irish Theater festival and was later translated into Japanese. It ran for a month in 2018 in three Japanese cities (www.mcgowantrilogy.com).

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“Echoes of Calling” was conceived and produced by the Japanese dancer and choreographer Akiko Kitamura (http://akihikokaneko.com/alb/). It is a modern dance production which incorporates Irish traditional musicians. The two Irish artists involved are native speakers from Donegal -- Diane Cannon and Doimnic Mac Gilloa Bhríde.

“There is a rich artistic lineage and integrity and sensitivity in Japanese culture that draws me in,” Scanlon said.

“Ireland and Japan have strong literary links — Lafcadio Hearn is a good example. There is a thriving interest in the Irish language, music and culture by Japanese academics, musicians and artists,” Scanlon said. “Some of these musicians live in Galway, which has two Japanese cafes, an annual Japanese film festival and a Japanese Poetry Day.” It was a chance meeting on the street with music producer Hiroaki Yokoyama that led to Scanlon’s involvement in “Echoes of Calling.”

City College where Scanlon works also has a strong connection to Japan. A delegation from Japan visits the Cohen Library archives every Summer to honor Townsend Harris, the first president of City College and the first American diplomatic representative in Japan.

“As an artist I like to think I am making a small contribution to strengthening ties between City College and Japan and between Galway and Japan,” Scanlon said.

Echoes of Calling will visit Galway in Summer 2021 as the pandemic situation allows. The show runs online from Tokyo until Jan 29 (tickets at https://tinyurl.com/echoesofcalling).

“City College still embraces diversity as exemplified by Harris in 1847 ‘Open the doors to all, let the children of the rich and the poor take their seats together..’ so for me working at City College and working with Japanese artists appeals to me on many levels.”

Scanlon works at City College Downtown – City College’s satellite campus - which awards bachelor degrees to working adults (ccny.cuny.edu/cwe).