ABOUT COMFORT GIRL

photo by Michael Yu, Rockwood Music Hall 2018

photo by Michael Yu, Rockwood Music Hall 2018

photo by Fanny Chen, the cell 2019

photo by Fanny Chen, the cell 2019

photo by Fanny Chen, the cell 2019

photo by Fanny Chen, the cell 2019

photo by Michael Yu, Rockwood Music Hall 2018

photo by Michael Yu, Rockwood Music Hall 2018


Photos from the sold-out world premiere at Joe’s Pub at the Public, NYC March 2019 - photos by Michael Yu

Comfort Girl is a musical exploration - in song and story - of the lives of Chinese 'comfort women, ' a cruel euphemism for the women who were abducted into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during WWII. The work is a tribute to these young women’s incandescent courage and indomitable spirit, not only while in captivity during the War but also—in a cruel irony—when they returned home to their families, who didn’t always welcome them back with open arms. Of the 200,000+ victims, more than half were Chinese girls, imprisoned in their own homeland for months or years, as war raged throughout Japanese-occupied China. Many died or were killed during the war. The few who survived stayed silent about their horrifying ordeal, because it was seen as shameful, and even considered treason. The music highlights an often-overlooked, dark chapter in history that still has echoes today, as survivors continue to fight for justice, and human trafficking and women’s rights are still a major global issue. The music is inspired by true stories survivors have told.

It is a stunning work that not only shines light on a dark chapter of history but also feels inspirational for contemporary listeners.
— DownBeat Magazine, July 2019, "Stephanie Chou's Suite Examines Dark History"; review from Comfort Girl premiere at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater, NYC

VIDEO TRAILER from Joe’s Pub concert. Full show video available upon request.

This trailer includes excerpts of songs with vocals. The show is framed by a love story; the main character Lian is engaged to her childhood love Ming, and is kidnapped by soldiers on her wedding day. Steph sings as a comfort woman in the first clip, and as the young lover Lian in the rest. Orville sings two roles: as the young fiance Ming, and as the Japanese soldiers after Lian is kidnapped.

The full 75-minute piece is approximately 1/3 instrumental music, 1/3 songs for female voice, 1/3 songs for male voice. It's stylistically diverse covering jazz, contemporary classical, pop, Chinese traditional, and more. Additional excerpts, audio mp3’s, and a full video containing narration and projections are available upon request.

A Mighty, Harrowing New Suite... a phanstasmagorical song cycle
— New York Music Daily, May 2019

PRESS INFO

right: 2019 APA Legacy Public Service Campaign (PSA) - Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month

below: Press Release for the world premiere

PERFORMANCES

May 20, 2019 - Excerpts/Discussion at Horace Mann School, NY - article in The Record

March 29, 2019 - World Premiere at Joe’s Pub, NYC - sold out

January 11, 2019 - Preview at the cell, NYC - sold out

December 9, 2018 - Preview at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC

INSTRUMENTATION - female & male voice, erhu, violin, viola, alto saxophone, piano, drums, percussion

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND - Click for more info

PROGRAM NOTE - Click to see our program note, which includes composer commentary

 
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It is a stunning work that not only shines light on a dark chapter of history but also feels inspirational for contemporary listeners.
— DownBeat Magazine, July 2019, "Stephanie Chou's Suite Examines Dark History"; review from Comfort Girl premiere at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater, NYC
One of New York’s most socially relevant and ambitious jazz talents...”
”A Mighty, Harrowing New Suite... a phanstasmagorical song cycle...”
”What was most striking about the show was not only Chou’s ability to shift between musical styles, but her prowess as a lyricist.
— New York Music Daily, 5/16/19, from a review of Stephanie Chou's world premiere of "Comfort Girl" at Joe's Pub at the Public, "A Rare City Park Show and a Mighty, Harrowing New Suite from Stephanie Chou"


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Please consider donating to Comfort Girl to help us continue to develop the piece and bring it to larger audiences. Your contribution will simultaneously support new music and help the legacy of the comfort women live on.

Donate TO COMFORT GIRL

Comfort Girl was made possible by a grant from the American Composers Forum with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation. The first two previews and premiere performance of Comfort Girl were made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. LMCC empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Manhattan and beyond.

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