Genji Ito

From his NY Times Obituary, April 27, 2001

Genji Ito, the resident composer for La MaMa E.T.C. since 1982 and a musical collaborator with many other groups, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 54.

He died of cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said Jonathan Slaff, a spokesman for La MaMa and Ubu Repertory Theater.

A prolific composer, Mr. Ito created scores for more than 25 theatrical productions at La MaMa, an experimental theater club. He received an Obie Award for sustained excellence in music in 1986.

Born in New York, Mr. Ito came from a family of artists. His mother, Teiki Ono, was a dancer; his father, Yuji Ito, was a composer and designer; and Teiji Ito, an older brother, was also a composer.

Working closely with Ellen Stewart, La MaMa’s founder and director, Mr. Ito produced scores notable for imaginative instrumentation and stylistic diversity. Reviewing Ms. Stewart’s ”Orfei,” a retelling of the Orpheus myth, in 1986, Jennifer Dunning wrote in The New York Times that ”the production owes much of its power to its rich score, composed by Genji Ito for an extraordinary variety of traditional folk and modern electronic instruments.”

In contrast to the mythological grandeur of ”Orfei” was ”Ghosts: Live From Galilee,” an opera about the Scottsboro Boys, a group of black men falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931. For this 1993 production at La MaMa, Mr. Ito composed a score that combined blues with country and vaudeville music.

Ms. Stewart recommended Mr. Ito to Fran├žoise Kourilsky, the artistic director of Ubu Repertory, and he wrote music for 15 of her productions. His varied career included collaborations with Great Jones Repertory Company, serving as music director for the New York City Ballet’s production of Jerome Robbins’s ”Watermill” in 1972 (which had music by Teiji Ito) and performing in the 1976 Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim’s ”Pacific Overtures.” He was also a guest artist in residence for the National Theater of the Deaf and a teacher at Manhattanville College.

Mr. Ito is survived by his wife, Zishan Ugurlu; a brother, Teimoc Johnston; and three children from previous marriages: a daughter, Sofia Teiko Ito, and sons Ted Ito Schmidt and Teiji Orion Malkine.

NFT Credits

Credit Type Production Season
Sound Designer The Matador of 1st and 1st 1994-95 Season
Sound Designer Black Girl (1995) 1995-96 Season
Sound Designer Christopher Columbus 1997-98 Season