Kevin James “The Vanishing Languages Project”

Thursday, March 28, 2013. 8:00 pm

ETHEL, Speak Percussion and The [kāj] Ensemble perform 3 premieres in an intimate musical conversation with the last speakers of 3 nearly extinct languages.

The Vanishing Languages Project  
created by composer, Kevin James

New York’s premiere post classical string quartet, ETHEL, the Australian innovators, Speak Percussion, and new music all-stars, The [kāj] Ensemble will premiere three multi-media musical works featuring live musicians w/surround sound audio content drawn from field recordings of nearly extinct languages.

In preparation for the Vanishing Languages project, Kevin traveled to a variety of remote communities to create new field recordings of the few remaining native speakers of each of 4 language and comprehensively research existing sound archives. The languages Kevin has focused on include Quileute (a Native American tribe of the Pacific Northwest) Dalabon and Jawoyn (Australian aboriginal languages of Arnhem Land), and Hokkaido Ainu (aboriginal language of the large northern Japanese island).

On Kevin’s arrival in La Push, WA there were 4 remaining native speakers of Quileute. On Kevin’s departure, there were 3. As of today, there are 2. There are 3 remaining native speakers of each of the Australian Aboriginal languages, Jawoyn and Dalabon. The Ainu language has no remaining native speakers.

Featured premieres will include Biyi-keninjh Kah-yenjdjung Dalabon (Speak), Counting in Quileute (the combined ensembles), and Ainu Inuma (ETHEL).

for more information, please visit

These concerts a made possible with generous funding from New Music USA. the New York State Council on the Arts and Arts Victoria

Each performance will include an audience Q&A session following the first work

Program for March 28th
Biyi-keninjh Kah-yenjdjung Dalabon
performed by Speak Percussion

Counting in Quileute
performed by the combined ensembles

Program for March 29th
Ainu Inuma
performed by ETHEL

Counting in Quileute
performed by the combined ensembles


Kevin James has become a fixture in the New York new music scene both as a composer and a performer. His broad palette spans from free jazz and improvisational works, audience participation and multi-media to traditional forms and modal harmonies. Kevin is noted for his work with surround-sound, electro acoustic environments involving spoken word and live performers as in his opera-lingua, The Portraits Project. Kevin has collaborated with literary luminaries, rising stars & slam champions such as Charles Simic, A. Van Jordan, Eugene Gloria, Maurice Manning,& Regie Cabico. Two recent works have been premiered by John Schaefer on WNYC radio, and his piece Horobi No Naka Kara was performed in Hiroshima as part of the 60th anniversary commemoration activities. Kevin’s music has been performed by many of America’s permiere performers including the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Lukes, Meridian Arts Ensemble, Glen Velez, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Oregon Bach Festival & others.