Posts Tagged ‘shamisen’

On Ensemble with Sumie Kaneko at the Getty Center

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

We had a great weekend of performances at the Getty Center for the Sounds of LA series with special guest Sumie Kaneko. The performances were free and reservations for tickets for both shows were sold out. Personally I couldn’t think of a better series to play for than “Sounds of LA”. I always feel like On Ensemble has a very Los Angeles sound. We are all about the particular mix of cultures and influences that happen here in SoCal. Where else would a taiko, throat singing, drum kit, koto, shamisen, vibraphone playing band seem so natural?

We brought out a special guest Sumie Kaneko from NY for this performance and it was really great performing with her. I had performed with her for a separate project in Houston but this was the first time she came to perform with On Ensemble and it was a perfect match. Sumie really adds a whole other layer of possibility and depth to our music and I’m really excited about working with her again in the future.

Lastly we’d like to give a shout out to Sabrina and Laurel for bringing us to the Getty Center. To Sarah, Caitlin and Tony for taking such good care of us and to Chris, Gus, Michael and Bill for making us sound and look great on stage! Thank you!

Also thank you to Kim, Ayano and Joe for volunteering and helping us sell merch! Kim also took these great photos of the performance and rehearsal. Thanks Kim!



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.”

Shamisen performace Sunday Oct 18

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

My good friend Kineya Yasoyo has organized a shamisen performance fundraiser for Nichiren Temple in downtown Los Angeles. I will be performing two Kabuki pieces, as well as the newest version of my solo taiko piece, Err. Included with the ticket price, all guests will be served Japanese tea as well. There will be Japanese food for purchase too! If you’re in the area, please come! Tickets are $35 at the door.

Nichiren Temple
2801 E 4th St
Los Angeles CA

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…

Lost in Translation

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Anyone ever see that movie?  Pretty fun movie if you’ve ever lived in Tokyo.  I’m not really that lost in translation, but it’s always a challenge being in Japan.

I got here on Sunday and now it’s Wednesday evening in Japan.  We’re leaving tomorrow already!  Crazy…

I miss Japan!  Wish I could be here longer, but it’s soooo expensive!  The food is damn good here as well… hard to go back to the Japanese food in LA…

I’m going to leave most of the posting for Kris to do since I’m basically here for him.  I came here to take a lesson from Kikuyu-sensei who has her natori in the taiko realm of nagauta.  I learned the piece  “Taiko No Kyoku” that we’re going to perform for On Ensemble ’08 : Yobu, but I don’t know the form very well, so I needed some guidance.  As you all know, Kris is getting his natori (stage name) for shamisen (Japanese banjo-type instrument), and is here to continue his studies.  We’re going to bring his sensei over for our concert and present this piece and his natori.  Please come support his cause.  This is a huge deal.

I watched Kris’ lesson with the iemoto (head teacher of his school).  A great man.  Here’s a pic of us after Kris’ lesson.

Check back for Kris’ update!

I caught up with some good friends on this trip too!  Thanks for coming out and seeing us/me!

On Ensemble International

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

While I’m here gigging with Hiroshima, Maz is in Mexico performing with Taikoproject and Kris is in Japan preparing for his natori debut at ON Ensemble ’08: YOBU. After Mexico Maz will join Kris in Japan for more preparation. We’re really proud of Kris as he accomplishes something only a few people outside of Japan have done. Receiving a professional stage name (natori) from a traditional school is no small matter and very rare in nagauta for someone outside of Japan. Here in Los Angeles there are several high quality Nihon Buyo (Japanese dance) schools, like the Azuma-ryu led by Madame Sumako Azuma, that have strong ties to their parent school in Japan and regularly see dancers receive their natori but there aren’t strong nagauta schools where someone can get high quality training in Los Angeles.

If you want a natori in nagauta you really have to go to Japan and make contacts there. That’s what Kenny Endo did, he spent ten years in Japan studying nagauta and receiving his natori and became the first non-Japanese national to receive his natori in nagauta percussion. Kris is going to receive his natori in nagauta shamisen and we don’t know if he’s the first but he will definitely be one of a very very few non-Japanese nationals to have done so.

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