Nicola LeFanu’s Tokaido Road comes to York

After a lengthy inception, intensive rehearsal and production period, as well as a tour of the country’s leading music festivals, Nicola LeFanu’s Tokaido Road reaches its final destination when the chamber opera comes to the Jack Lyons Concert Hall.

The brainchild of producer Dr Kate Romano, clarinettist and Deputy Head of Academic Studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the work was awarded a four-star review by The Times’ Hilary Finch, describing it as ‘well paced and meticulously thought through, with spare instrumental lines exquisitely woven.’ Based on the award-winning cycle of poems by Nancy Gaffield, poet and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent, Tokaido Road brings together poetry, music, dance, mime, photography and art in its exploration of the trade-route linking Edo to Kyoto.

The work was commissioned by the pioneering Okeanos Ensemble, which embraces the Japanese sho and koto alongside oboe, clarinet, viola and cello; since its inception in 2000, the group has pushed the boundaries in its continued exploration of Eastern and Western music, and has previously commissioned works from composers such as Dai Fujikura, Howard Skempton, Robin Holloway and Judith Bingham. A collaborative project, the work has brought together the Guildhall, University of York, University of Kent and Okeanos Ensemble.

Since its acclaimed premiere at the Cheltenham Festival last year, Tokaido Road has been captivating audiences around the country in its exploration of the Japanese artist Hiroshige’s woodblock prints evoking landscapes along Japan’s famous trade-route; in the opera, the elderly Hiro looks back upon his travels as a young man, reflecting on life, love and loss as depicted in his famed prints.

Read more about the project on its blog – – including image galleries, audio extracts and interviews with Nicola LeFanu, Nancy Gaffield, Kate Romano and others.

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