The Five Nation Ensemble will perform at Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts on Sunday, March 12 at 3 p.m. The Five Nation Ensemble consists of cellist and conductor Lutz Rath of Germany, harp virtuoso Melanie Genin of France, violinist Eriko Sato of Japan, model and designer Ullie De Osu of Russia and master calligrapher Red Square of China. Rath, a former resident of Sag Harbor, thinks the audience is in for an exciting afternoon of art.
“Let’s put it this way—it’s very unusual,” explains Rath of the performance. The two-part show will include improvisational music pieces featuring Rath, Genin and Sato, as well as a performance art installation by Square and De Osu. Some of the works include Camille Saint-Saën’s “Fantasie,” as well as cello music by Hanns Eisler, who collaborated with Bertolt Brecht.
The second part of the event, which Rath describes as a “collage of calligraphy and sound,” will feature Square writing a special poem on De Osu’s body, which will be covered in clay. The poem will be recited by Square in both English and in her native Chinese. “Square is sensational. It sounds phenomenal,” Rath says. Rath and Genin will also perform improvisational music during the installation.
Rath will also recite the poem “An Anna Blume” by German artist Kurt Schwitters, whose work was forbidden to be shown during the Nazi regime. The entire show features work by artists who were each blacklisted or cast out due to their country’s political climate—something Rath finds very timely. “My feeling about it is that, in this political climate, we artists have to do even more art and involve the public, especially now,” he says, noting the current White House administration’s apathy toward the arts. “Even the worst dictators have culture,” Rath sighs. “We are obliged to make the arts accessible to audiences but also challenge them.”
The Five Nation Ensemble will perform at Bay Street Theater, 1 Bay Street, Sag Harbor, on Sunday, March 12 at 3 p.m. For tickets, call the box office at 631-725-9500 or visit baystreet.org.