Music for Music: Pauchi Sasaki



Pauchi Sasaki, photo by Edi Hirose

Pauchi Sasaki: One-Person Micro-Culture

Part 3 of Classical:NEXT Series

By Dan Ursini © 2019

Pauchi Sasaki is a deeply gifted Peruvian-Japanese composer from Lima. In 2016 she was selected to apprentice under American composer Philip Glass by the Rolex Mentor and Protege Initiative. It enabled her to spend a year shadowing the renowned composer.

That is just one of the areas where she has distinguished herself. She is also a violinist, a film scorer, a creator of musical instruments which explore new interfaces between sound and human beings. She designs performance installations, network music consoles; and, remarkably, the Speaker Dress, which  she states, “consists of a wearable sound sculpture built with 100 speakers, 6 amplifiers and microphones.”

She is in essence a one-person micro-culture of artistry and design.

Her current challenge is appearing in the Classical:NEXT event at Rotterdam on May 15-18, 2019. She will be presenting the film score of the short documentary Kipatsi, Nija, Añaantsi from filmmaker Murat Eyuboglu. Sasaki says, “I will perform live on stage along with the film. This work is a premiere, so there is no material available on the Internet.” But she adds that “an important composition that helps to understand [my] approach to musical composition is GAMA XV: Piece for Two Speaker Dresses,” a piece commissioned to flutist Claire Chase in this 2016 (video):

I recommend both videos. The Piece for Two Speaker Dresses shows, among other things, how Sasaki uses the entire performance space as a musical instrument. The second, linked at the end of this article, World Premiere Performance of her work at a Rolex Arts Weekend offers an hour-long immersion into a wide range of Sasaki’s music, encompassing conventional instruments alongside her own inventions in the creation of music that employs a range of high-tech and low-tech elements. 

There is no fair way to describe what Pauchi Sasaki is doing in the space of an article. Let me concentrate on a couple videos, beginning with one running eight minutes, entitled, Ame:

The swooping and spare melody is performed with great tenderness. The whole of it is carried along with mysterious energy enhanced brilliantly by the inventiveness of the film. It is both elemental and quite sophisticated. 

Sasaki describes the piece this way:

The expansion of internal spaces is explored in my videoclip Ame or “rain” in Japanese (2011). In the video, co-created with my friend Juan Carlos Yanaura, there are many little Pauchis singing and calling to the water in a black space. Behind these characters, we see two big totemic cups full of water, each of them host to a goldfish. The water hears the call and arrives in the form of rain, liberating the goldfish from their small containers. Consequently, they are reunited in a new and bigger space. This effect was achieved by placing the cups inside a bigger and more transparent container. Through this effect I wanted to express my thoughts about the relativity of boundaries and to show that there is always an unexpected way to transform our space.

Her writing here is cerebral, poetic, and direct. Like her music, it conveys a perspective altogether unique and brilliant. Another dimension is illuminated in a video, IMPROVISACION 1: AMPLIFICADO (PERÚ). She improvises on her violin, standing on a sunny Lima rooftop:

I was impressed by her facility with improvising arrangements through deft looping. She seemed to handle with complex musical situations with great ease. About this talent she says:

I love to improvise. For more than a decade I was very active in the improvisation scene in Peru. Also, everywhere I travel, I would try to organize improvisation sessions with musicians from all over. My main instrument in these kind of situations was my pedal, a sampler or looper. For me, improvisation is a great opportunity to learn, to try new ideas and to be surprised. It teaches me how to listen to other musicians, the space, and myself, as well as to be more flexible in different creative situations.

Dan Ursini and his wife Valerie live in Oak Park, Illinois. Over the years he has done many kinds of writing. Ursini served as the first resident playwright for the Steppenwolf Theatre of Chicago (1978-1983); he worked for ten years as a Contributing Editor for Puerto Del Sol magazine ; he wrote performance art pieces presented at  Chicago venues as Club Lower Links and Club Dreamerz. Ursini wrote radio theatre presented on NPR in the early 1990s. Throughout all this, he has worked full-time at the Law Library at DePaul University where for a decade he also wrote articles for Dialogue, the DePaul law school’s alumni publication . In addition, he was active for some years as a bass guitarist in various Chicago blues/gospel/funk/lounge configurations. Currently Ursini is working on his latest novel. A play he wrote with Robert Rothman, A Mensch Among Men, a fictionalized account of real-life Jewish Chicago-area gangsters, recently had two staged readings in Chicago. Dan can be reached at: danursini@aol.com

Pauchi Sasaki’s Website

Pauchi Sasaki at Sound Cloud

Pauchi Sasaki at National Sawdust

Rolex Mentor and Protege Initiative

Pauchi Sasaki in the Los Angeles Times

Pauchi Sasaki on the Speaker Dress in 1843 Magazine

World Premiere Performance at Rolex Arts Weekend (hour long)

Classical: NEXT, Part 1 at EIL: Emma O’Halloran

Classical: NEXT, Part 2 at EIL: Amanda Gookin