BELLFLOWER — Lucas Thanos and the Hellenic Library present Aeschylus’ “Oresteia” (the trilogy), featuring music by Tom Kurai and Taiko Center of Los Angeles, on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 6 p.m. at the William and Jane Bristol Civic Auditorium, 16600 Civic Center Dr., Bellflower.
Directed and translated by Thanos, the “Oresteia” tells the story of the house of Atreus. The first play, “Agamemnon,” portrays the victorious return of that king from the Trojan War and his murder by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus. At the play’s end Clytemnestra and her lover rule Argos.
The second play, “The Libation Bearers,” details the revenge of Agamemnon’s daughter, Electra, and son, Orestes. The siblings together invoke the aid of the dead Agamemnon in their plans. Orestes then slays his mother and Aegisthus and flees, guilt-wracked, maddened, and pursued by the female incarnations of his mother’s curse, the Furies (Erinyes).
The third play, “Eumenides,” opens at the shrine of Apollo at Delphi, where Orestes has taken sanctuary from the Furies. At the command of the Delphic oracle, Orestes journeys to Athens to stand trial for his matricide. There the goddess Athena organizes a trial with a jury of citizens. The Furies are his accusers, Apollo his advocate.
The jury is evenly divided in its vote, and Athena casts the tie-breaking vote for Orestes acquittal. The Furies then turn their vengeful resentment against the city itself.
“The work has extraordinary, sustained dramatic and poetic power,” said Thanos. “Particularly notable are the fascinating richness of Clytemnestra’ s deceitful words and the striking choral songs, which raise in metaphorical and often enigmatic terms the major themes of theology, politics, and blood relationships that are elaborated throughout the trilogy.”
Taiko Center of Los Angeles was founded by Rev. Kurai in January 1997. Kurai, a Zen Buddhist priest, was born in Mie Prefecture and raised in Los Angeles. He is the current abbot of Sozenji Buddhist Temple in Montebello.
“Rev. Tom” has performed and taught taiko in the U.S. and Japan for 30 years. He has been a member of and has led several taiko groups in the Los Angeles area and in Japan as well since 1975. From 1980 to 1983, he studied and performed with Takeko Sudo sensei, director of the Japan Folkloric Dance Group in Tokyo.
Kurai also teaches in public and private schools and is a lecturer in taiko ensemble through the UC Riverside Music Department. He also teaches taiko as music therapy to patients at the Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino.
The reverend has composed music for various taiko groups as well as for feature films, recordings, plays, modern and traditional dance, and video games. He has received the Los Angeles Dramalogue, L.A. Weekly, and Inland League theater awards for best musical performance in live theatre and the Lester Horton award for outstanding achievement in music for dance in 2004.
On the Web: www.taikocenter.com