All posts in the "Shamisen" category.

Japan trip wrap-up

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

I’ve just returned from a wonderful time in Tokyo and Kumamoto, Japan, followed by my first trip to England. The trip was amazing; the culmination of months of shamisen and taiko practice and preparation.

Shima no Senzai Tokyo lesson from Kristofer Bergstrom on Vimeo.

My main goal in Japan was shamisen study. After a quick check-in lesson with my shamisen teacher, I took a lesson with the great tsuzumi player, Katada Shinjyuuro. I’m working on a piece called Shima no Senzai which is a duet for tsuzumi and shamisen. The lesson with Shinjyuuro provided an experienced drummer’s input on how to play in a way that makes the tsuzumi part easy and fun. My long-term goal is to be able to perform this piece with Kenny, Shoji, or Yuta and I feel like I’m making my way toward being ready.

Thank you to Kineya Katsuyukie, her students, Shinjyuuro Sensei, and Hiroka for all your help making this lesson happen!

Kisen and Hanami Odori Wrap-Up

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The main portion of my performance at the National Theater was a piece called Kisen. Here is a bit of background about the piece with photos and audio recordings from the performance!


Katsusaburo 7th dies

Monday, July 5th, 2010

The previous leader of my shamisen school, Kineya Katsusaburo 7th, passed away on June 27, 2010 at the age of 82. My teacher, Katsuyukie, studied under him for more than 50 years, and considered Katsusaburo one of the greatest players and teachers of all time. He is the Iemoto who granted my natori, and I had the pleasure of spending time with him on a few occasions in Japan (Maz met him too!). He was always supportive and generous, and interested in getting the latest news on things in the United States, having travelled the world extensively.

When I spoke with my teacher on the phone, she said that although she’s sad about his passing, “It’s a rare treasure to complete such a dramatically successful and fulfilling life.”

Hanabishi article – Hello from LA, June 09

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

My shamisen guild, Kineyakatsu, publishes a quarterly magazine for its members called Hanabishi.  The most recent edition includes an article I wrote after receiving my stage name.  Below is the scanned Japanese version and an English translation.  The photo is me with the head of the guild, Kineya Katsusaburo VII.



Shamisen wrap-up

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Wow, what a week! The concert and the natori ceremony are complete! More than anything, the support of friends and On members has been very, very special to me.

Natori plaque

Natori plaque

Thank you to Hiromi Ashmore for all the help organizing lessons for Sensei while I was in the theater. I couldn’t have survived the week without you!

Thank you to Hiroka for the tireless help with food and taking care of Sensei.

Thank you to Maz for the amazing job transcribing, memorizing, and practicing Taiko no Kyoku. You were amazing through the whole thing. Listen to the track below from about 8:30… Maz is amazing!

Thank you to Shoji and Kelvin for putting up with me through all the craziness.

Thank you to Johnny Mori for helping to make the performance possible and for participating in the ceremony. It meant a lot to me!

Thank you to On Ensemble’s fans and the FoundatiOn Team for the incredible response before and at the event, and for your financial and emotional support.

Thanks to all of you, I had the honor of performing Taiko no Kyoku with my teacher. I’m usually terrified when performing shamisen, but this time I had a lot of fun. I made a number of mistakes, but it was definitely the best I’ve ever played in performance.

The one mistake that’ll bug me for a long time is the very beginning of the piece… with all the applause, I couldn’t hear Sensei’s cue, so I missed the first note. Sensei gave herself a hard time for not playing louder but it was really me who was distracted. Ah well, it gives me something to shoot for next time!

Without further ado, here is the recording of the piece from On ’08 : Yobu!

Taiko no Kyoku OGG

Taiko no Kyoku MP3

Natori: What’s in a name?

Saturday, October 4th, 2008
Kris w/ Iemoto Katsaburo and teacher, Katsuyukie Sensei

Kris w/ Iemoto Katsusaburo and teacher, Katsuyukie Sensei

Maz and I have finished the bulk of our lessons here in Japan. Negotiating the etiquette of the Japanese traditional music world and living up to my teacher’s high expectations is always a bit nerve wracking. But this time in Japan has been particularly useful and a major step for me as a player.

This has to be the most work I’ve ever done for a single piece of music. But it’s looking like we’ll be ready for Yobu on November 8!

First a word on Maz…

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