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ON an endless ROAD

ItŌ noe & the women composers of her Time

A unique opportunity to see renowned singer and biwa player Akiko Kubota perform in the UK, in a programme of music by and about trailblazing Japanese women.

At the heart of this dramatic concert programme is a new song cycle, written especially for Akiko by British composer Francesca Le Lohé. A Japanese stringed instrument, the biwa is traditionally used to accompany narrative songs chronicling the achievements of warriors in battle. Francesca's new work celebrates the brief life of writer and  feminist anarchist Itō Noe (1895-1923), killed by Japanese state forces when she was just 28. It is sung in Japanese with English surtitles.


Akiko has performed extensively across Asia, South America and Europe including with the Vienna Philharmonic and Brussels Philharmonic. This is her first visit to the UK. Francesca has worked in Japan since 2015, and  in 2019, her opera ‘The Key’ won the prestigious Keizo Saji Prize. She is an LSO Soundhub Associate 2022-2024. 


“An outstanding British talent… This is the timeless way creation should happen.”  The Asahi Newspaper on Francesca Le Lohé.


Alongside this new work, sits beautiful music for violin and piano by three of Noe’s contemporaries  who broke new ground  writing in the Western Classical tradition: Kōda Nobu (1870-1946), Toyama Michiko (1913-2006) and Yoshida Takako (1910-1956).  Click here to read more about them and their music. 

'On an Endless Road' premiered in Tokyo in 2023, and Hera is excited to be presenting the UK tour, in association with Illuminate Women's Music, to mark International Women's Day this March. For the tour, Akiko will be joined by award-winning international soloists violinist Midori Komachi and pianist Yura Zaiki. Special guest speaker Dr Irena Hayter, (Associate Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Leeds) will be here to tell us more about Itō Noe and the politically febrile Japan of her time.


Tuesday 5 March 2024, 7.30pm

The Actors' Church, Covent Garden, London

Tickets: £10-£20 (book now)

Thursday 7 March 2024, 1pm*

St. Paul's Hall, University of Huddersfield

Tickets: Free, no need to book

Friday 8 March 2024, 7.00pm

Musica Festival, Martin Harris Centre, University of Manchester

Tickets: £7.50-£11.50 (book now)

Saturday 9th March 2024, 7.30pm

Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

Tickets: £16 (book now)

All venues are wheelchair accessible. You are always welcome to wear a mask to any of our performances. If you have questions about access please contact and we will find an answer for you as quickly as possible. 

*Please note this free lunchtime concert will feature a shorter programme, followed by a talk. 


You can also join Akiko and Francesca for two talks and demonstrations, to find out more about the biwa and their collaborative relationship.

Itō Noe via Biwa: New Perspectives and Processes

Wednesday 6 March 2024, 5.00-7.00pm

Japan Research Centre, SOAS, University of London

Reserve a free place to join in-person or online

Playing Biwa: Talk and Performance by Akiko Kubota

Tuesday 12 March 2024, 6.30-7.45pm

Japan House London, Kensington

Tickets are free. Book to attend in person or online here.


Click above to watch Kōda Nobu's violin sonata, which features in 'On an Endless Road' (played here by Yasuko Ohtani and  Takashi Sato), or listen to some extracts from 'Itō Noe: On an Endless Road'.

To read more about the three Japanese women composers in the concert, and their music, click here to read a blog post by composer and curator Francesca Le Lohé.

The Artists

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