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SIDESHOW by Steven Kazuo Takasugi
NOVEMEBER 2+3, 2022 @ 8:00 PM ET

  • Live Audience at the Arrayspace: $20 or $15
  • Concert run time: 60 minutes (no intermission)


NO HAY BANDA, a Canadian experimental music collective tours Steven Kazuo Takasugi’s theatrical octet Sideshow (to Montreal, Toronto, Victoria, Vancouver as part of Music on Main’s Modulus Festival). 


An hour-long theatrical work for chamber octet, electronic amplification, and playback. Based on the dark sideshows of Coney Island’s amusement parks in the early part of the 20th century, Sideshow is a work of music theatre that is framed in a chamber music performance suggestive of uncanny spectacle. The work is a meditation on virtuosity, entertainment, business, and the sacrifices one makes to survive in the world. Sideshow was originally composed over the course of 6 years (2009-2015) for NYC’s Talea Ensemble.

Montreal’s NO HAY BANDA was the second ensemble to ever perform Sideshow, and has been the only group to present it in Canada. 

Says NO HAY BANDA’s Noam Bierstone: 

“In Sideshow, music does not accompany the theatre, but rather, music is the theatre, transforming themusicians into actors themselves. Every single movement performed by the musicians is exploited as a theatrical tool, and enhanced with extra-musical facial expressions and actions. Sideshow is programmatic, representational, provocative, humorous, strange, grotesque, and extreme; it is a unique and audacious work that deserves to be experienced live by audiences across the country. We were very fortunate to work with Takasugi in preparation of our first performance, and we are thrilled that he will be joining us on tour this fall.”

Sideshow on tour will be performed by:

  • Jeff Stonehouse, flute
  • Lori Freedman, clarinet
  • Yves Charuest, alto saxophone
  • Geneviève Liboiron, violin
  • Jean René, viola
  • Émilie Girard-Charest, cello
  • Daniel Áñez, piano
  • Noam Bierstone, solo vocalizing percussionist


  • Steven Kazuo Takasugi, composition, staging
  • Gabriel Dufour-Laperrière, electronics


Steven Kazuo Takasugi, born 1960 in Los Angeles, is a composer of electro-acoustic, mixed-media composition applied to a concept of music theater performed specifically by musicians. This first involves the collecting and archiving of recorded, acoustic sound samples into large databases, each classifying tens of thousands of individual, human-performed instances collected over decades of experimentation and research, mostly conducted in his private sound laboratory. These are then subjecting to computer-assisted, algorithmic composition, revised and adjusted until the resulting emergent sonic composite phenomena, energies, and relationships reveal hidden meanings and contexts. This formulates the cantus firmus electronic playback, a ground foundational layer that is then transcribed, using various digital and data analysis tools, into music notation and then interpreted as amplified and often exaggerated staged gestures, theatrically expressive, choreographed for classically trained musicians, with movements inherent to musical performance and musical ontology: page turns, cueing, foot tapping, etc.

This transcription-translation is always historically referential and is described as an accompanying project: “When people return,” that is, when live musicians interact with digital technology after a long absence, thus demanding an alternative, more equal relationship with digitally recorded audio samples. This relationship often creates a “strange doubling” playing off the “who is doing what?” inherent with simultaneous live and recorded media: a ventriloquism effect of sorts. This is exacerbated by integrated and strategic lip-syncing, false spatialization, and purposeful perceptual misguidance, all in order to achieve a “house of mirrors,” where live and recorded, real and virtual, truth and falsity become confused, one for the other, and where likewise performer becomes observer and audience the observed. The music is programmatic, representational, narrative, provocative, confrontational, humorous, then not at all humorous, all to accommodate a social and political message current with our contemporary technological culture and humanity in a time of mass consumption, crisis, and transition.

Takasugi received his doctoral in music composition at the University of California, San Diego. He is currently an Associate of the Harvard Music Department. He is the 2016 Riemen and Bakatel Fellow for Music at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and is the recipient of awards including a 2010 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, three Ernst von Siemens Foundation Commissions, and residency fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, Civitella Ranieri in Perugia, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Japan Foundation in Tokyo. His work has been performed extensively by numerous soloists, ensembles, and orchestras worldwide including Ensembles Talea, No Hay Banda, Distractfold, Rubiks, 113, MusikFabrik, Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain, ICE, Tzara, wasteLAnd, Klangforum Wien, Handwerk, Mozaik, Sound Initiative, Musica Nova, Slowind, Vortex, Contrechamps, Pamplemousse, Tsilumos, Mocrep, Neue Vokalsolisten, SurPlus, Nonsense Company, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Takasugi is also a renowned teacher of composition associated with masterclasses in New York City, Singapore, Stuttgart, Tel Aviv, Darmstadt, Dublin, Bludenz, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has taught at the University of California, San Diego, Harvard University, California Institute for the Arts, and the Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo. Takasugi is also an extensive essayist on music and was one of the founding editors of Search Journal for New Music and Culture. He has organized numerous discussion panels and fora on New Music including colloquia and conferences at Harvard Music, the Goethe-Institut Boston, and the Darmstadt Forum.