The Noguchi Museum garden with The Big Bang and Illusion of the Fifth Stone

Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti In Concert


At the time of writing, following six months of COVID-19 related closure, the reopening of the Museum is just a few weeks away, although we have clearly not entered anything approaching a post-pandemic phase. This seems more likely to be the middle of an arc whose destination, we are finally beginning to understand, we cannot know. Many of us continue, nevertheless, to operate as if we believe that sooner or later the path of life will bend back toward normal.

Over the past several years, the Museum has had the good fortune to develop a relationship with violist, composer, and new music curator Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti. Leilehua has now written three compositions for Noguchi sculptures—not in honor of them, though they do honor them, but treating specific works of Noguchi’s as instruments and collaborators.

Program & Notes by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti

Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti kneels in the Noguchi Musuem garden, masked and playing a viola

koʻu inoa (2017) by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti performed hand in hand with Isamu Noguchi’s The Illusion of the Fifth Stone (1970), The Big Bang (1978), Unmei (1970)

koʻu inoa is a homesick bariolage based on the anthem Hawaiʻi Aloha. It is usually sung at the end of large concerts or gatherings, with everyone joining hands and swaying side to side as they sing. The final lyrics of the chorus are, “gentle breezes blow; love always for Hawaiʻi.” Hawaiʻi Aloha evokes not only a homesickness for place and sound, but this action of coming together—a homesickness that we’re all feeling right now where music and human interaction are home.

Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti plays a viola next to Isamu Noguchi’s basalt sculpture ‘Deepening Knowledge’

Star Compass (2020, world premiere) by Dai Fujikura performed next to Isamu Noguchi’s Deepening Knowledge (1969)

Star Compass is the cadenza (the part a soloist plays alone) for Dai Fujikura’s new viola concerto, Wayfinder. While Dai and I have known each other and collaborated now for almost ten years, this is the first time I have been able to commission him to write a work specifically for me, which was made possible by the generous support of Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting. As Dai began to write, he asked me what I was reading. In fact, at the time, I was reading lots of things about Noguchi, doing research for one of my previous commissions for the museum. Dai and I wrote back and forth, but it didn’t seem to be the right fit for the piece. Then I said—almost as a side note—that my mother had just sent me An Ocean in Mind by Will Kyselka. An Ocean in Mind is the story of the Hōkūleʻa (the Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe that first completed a voyage from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti in 1976 using only Polynesian navigation techniques), and how the practice of wayfinding was reinvigorated in Polynesia in the 1970s.

Star Compass and portrait of Dai Fujikua
Left: Star compass, from Nainoa Thompson’s On Wayfinding. Right: Dai Fujikura.