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Traditional and Contemporary Japanese Music

September 10, 2 pm3 pm.

Join Masayo Ishigue and Miyabi Koto Shamisen Ensemble for an immersive experience of Japanese traditional and contemporary music in the exhibition galleries, surrounded by Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson. The four musicians will play the koto, a plucked half-tube stringed zither, and the shamisen, a 3-string instrument that resembles a banjo.

The koto, the national instrument of Japan, first came to Japan from China and Korea in the seventh century. Initially found only in the Imperial Court Ensemble (gagaku), the koto later took on a life of its own both in and out of court society. Today the koto is one of the most popular Japanese instruments, despite its tradition of being limited to art and chamber music. The shamisen originated in China and came to Japan through Okinawa. The exact date of its arrival is unknown, but reference to the shamisen’spresence in mainland Japan is found in early Buddhist scriptures.

Masayo Ishigure began playing the koto and jiuta shamisen at the age of five in Gifu, Japan, and has created an extensive multi-faceted career that continues to stretch the limits of the koto while maintaining a strong grasp of the tradition. After initial studies with Tadao and Kazue Sawai, Masayo became a special research student in 1986 at the Sawai Koto Academy of Music. The academy incorporates many influences from classical to jazz and aims to change the perception of the koto from solely as a traditional Japanese instrument to an instrument of universal expressiveness.