JAMES NYORAKU SCHLEFER, Artistic Director
MEG FAGAN, Producer

Press Releases

Press Contact: Meg Fagan, Producer • Kyo-Shin-An Arts • 718-832-5435 • meg@nyoraku.com

A 2016 and 2013 CMA/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award Winner, KYO-SHIN-AN ARTS is a contemporary music organization dedicated to the integration of the Japanese instruments koto, shakuhachi and shamisen into Western classical composition. Kyo-Shin-An Arts’ award-winning concert series at the Tenri Cultural Institute in Manhattan features a blend of KSA commissions with World, American and NY premieres, traditional and contemporary music for Japanese instruments and Western repertoire.  

SHAKUHACHI: HEAR – WRITE – PLAY

An event for COMPOSERS and the musically and intellectually curious!
Hear the music, write the notes, try the instrument.

Sunday, November 27, 2016, 4:00 PM
Tenri Cultural Institute
43A West 13th Street, New York City

Tickets $10  at  brownpapertickets.com or 1-800-838-3006

Kyo-Shin-An Arts’ Artistic Director, James Nyoraku Schlefer, will lead an eventthat focuses on the performance, composition, and practice of shakuhachi. The  program will begin with brief solo performances of traditional and contemporary repertoire for the shakuhachi. It will then feature a discussion and Q&A with a panel of composers, all of whom were previously commissioned by KSA and have already grappled with writing for the shakuhachi. Mr. Schlefer will play selections from each composer’s work and ask each to consider the challenges and expectations they may have had when writing it. The final component of the program will offer everyone in the audience the chance to play a shakuhachi – with instruction from members of Nyoraku sensei’s teaching studio.

COMPOSER PANEL: VICTORIA BOND, MATTHEW HARRIS, KENTO IWASAKI, JAMES MATHESON and PAUL MORAVEC

James Nyoraku Schlefer is a Grand Master of the shakuhachi and one of only a handful of non-Japanese artists to have achieved this rank. He received the Dai-Shi-Han (Grand Master) certificate in 2001, and his second Shi-Han certificate in 2008, from the Mujuan Dojo in Kyoto. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Tanglewood and BAM, as well as multiple venues across the country and in Japan, Indonesia, Brazil and Europe. Mr. Schlefer first encountered the shakuhachi in 1979, while working towards a career as a flute player and pursuing an advanced degree in musicology at CUNY (Queens College.) Today, he is considered by his colleagues to be one of most influential Western practitioners of this distinctive art form. As a composer, Mr. Schlefer has written multiple chamber and orchestral works combining Japanese and Western instruments as well as numerous pieces solely for traditional Japanese instruments. Mr. Schlefer is the Artistic Director of Kyo-Shin-An Arts and the curator for the Japanese music series at the Tenri Cultural Institute in NYC. He teaches shakuhachi at Columbia University, a broad spectrum of Western and World music courses at New York City Technical College (CUNY), and performs and lectures at colleges and universities throughout the United States. In December 2015, Mr. Schlefer was recognized by Musical America Worldwide for his work both as a composer and as Artistic Director of  Kyo-Shin-An Arts, as one of their “30 Top Professionals and Key Influencers”. www.nyoraku.com

VICTORIA BOND: A major force in 21st century concert music, Victoria Bond leads a dual career as composer and conductor. Bond has been commissioned by American Ballet Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Houston and Shanghai Symphony Orchestras, Cleveland and Indianapolis Chamber Orchestras, Women’s Philharmonic and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her compositions have been performed by the Dallas Symphony, New York City Opera, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and members of the New York Philharmonic, among others. She was recently honored with the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Walter Hinrichsen Award. Bond has served as Exxon/Arts Endowment Conductor with the Pittsburgh Symphony and guest conducted throughout the United States, Europe, South America and China.  She was profiled in the Wall Street Journal, NBC’s Today Show, People Magazine and The New York Times and was voted Woman of the Year in Virginia (1990-91). The first woman awarded a doctorate in orchestral conducting from The Juilliard School, Bond has served as Music Director of the New Amsterdam and Roanoke Symphony Orchestras, Artistic Director of Opera Roanoke, Harrisburg Opera and Bel Canto Opera, Music Adviser of the Wuhan Symphony in China and Principal Guest Conductor of Chamber Opera Chicago. www.victoriabond.com

MATTHEW HARRIS has had orchestral works performed by The Minnesota, Houston, Florida, Jacksonville, Chattanooga, Spokane and Modesto Symphony Orchestras; chamber works by Kyo-Shin-An Arts, Ensemble Epomeo, the Lark Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble and League-ISCM; and vocal works by Sheryl Studer and Faith Esham. His one-act opera, The Mark of Cain, was premiered by Chelsea Opera, and his three-act opera, Tess, was presented in part by The New York City Opera (VOX series), Lake George Opera Festival and Golden Fleece, LTD. His monodrama, As You Choose, was produced at the Southern Theater in St. Paul. Mr. Harris's highly popular choral works have been commissioned or premiered by leading choruses such as the Dale Warland Singers, Phoenix Bach Choir, Los Angeles Chamber Singers, Western Wind, and Cantori New York, and sung by countless school and community choirs across America. His A Child's Christmas in Wales, a cantata for chorus and orchestra commissioned by Harmonium, is performed throughout the US and UK. Other commissions have come from the Fromm Foundation/Aspen Music Festival (where he was a guest composer), Verdehr Trio, Modesto Symphony Orchestra, Haydn-Mozart Orchestra, American Composers Forum, Schubert Club and US-Mexico Cultural Fund. http://matthewharrismusic.com/

KENTO IWASAKI is a composer and koto performer. As a young composer he has had residencies at Flushing Town Hall, Atlantic Center of the Arts, and Jamaica Center of the Arts and Learning. His work has been supported by the Queens Arts Council, Kyo-Shin-An Arts and Exploring the Metropolis. He has been interviewed by Con Edison, WWFM Classical Radio, Clocktower, and Queens Tribune. Kento studied koto with Satomi Fukami in Japan as part of a fellowship program sponsored by Columbia University and continues his koto studies with Yoko Reikano Kimura. Kento has received training in opera composition from Libby Larsen, John Corgliano and and William Bolcolm as part of the John Duffy Composers Institute, and training in music theatre through the Nautilus Music Theater/New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio. https://kentoiwasaki.squarespace.com/#intro

JAMES MATHESON: New York-based composer James Matheson is widely regarded as one of the most distinctive, vital, and creative musical voices of his generation. Among his commissions are works for the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Chicago and Albany Symphony Orchestras, Carnegie Hall, and the St. Lawrence and Borromeo String Quartets. The American Academy of Arts and Letters honored him in December, 2011 with the Charles Ives Living, an award of $100,000 a year for 2 years. A 2016 release from Yarlung Records featureS three major Matheson works: Violin Concerto (Baird Dodge, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Esa-Pekka Salonen); Times Alone, (soprano Laura Strickling and pianist Thomas Sauer); and String Quartet (Color Field Quartet). recent commissions include a new work for large orchestra, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, to be premiered February 24th, 25th and 26th, 2017; Violin Concerto, co-commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; True South, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; The Age of Air, for two shakuhachi and chamber orchestra, co-commissioned by Kyo-Shin-An Arts and River Oaks Chamber Orchestra for soloists James Schlefer and Akihito Obama; String Quartet (2014), commissioned by Justus and Elizabeth Schlichting for the St. Lawrence String Quartet; Times Alone (2013), commissioned by soprano Kiera Duffy, Cretic Variations (2013), commissioned by pianist Nadia Shpachenko, and Peace Talks (2014), commissioned by Swarthmore College for its Sesquicentennial Celebration. www.jamesmatheson.com

PAUL MORAVEC, recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Music, has composed numerous orchestral, chamber, lyric, and operatic works. Frequently commissioned by notable ensembles and major music institutions, Mr. Moravec's recent premieres include The Shining, to a libretto by Mark Campbell based on the Stephen King novel, which premiered at Minnesota Opera in May. Other recent premieres include a Violin Concerto with violinist Maria Bachmann and Symphony in C, Shakuhachi Concerto, with James Schlefer and the Orchestra of the Swan, The King's Man, with Kentucky Opera, Amorisms, with Alias and the Nashville Ballet, and Piano Quintet, with Jeremy Denk and the Lark Quartet. Recent recordings include Amorisms on Delos/Naxos and Violin Concerto on Naxos American Classics. Upcoming premieres include The Overlook Hotel Suite with American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in October, Orchestra of the Swan in the U.K. in December, Winter Songs with the Harvard University choruses, and an oratorio about the Underground Railroad for the Oratorio Society of New York in 2018 at Carnegie Hall. A graduate of Harvard and Columbia Universities, he currently holds the distinguished rank of University Professor at Adelphi University. He is the recipient of three awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Rome Prize Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation. He was the 2013 Paul Fromm Composer-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome, and recently served as Artist-in-Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.  www.paulmoravec.com                   

KYO-SHIN-AN ARTS: Kyo-Shin-An Arts' is a contemporary music organization with a mission to commission music and present concerts that bring Japanese instruments – specifically koto, shakuhachi and shamisen – to Western classical music. A 2016 and 2013 CMA/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award winner (small presenter, mixed repertory), Kyo-Shin-An Arts will be presenting its 7h chamber music season at the Tenri Cultural Institute.. KSA works in partnership with established ensembles and Western soloists, bridging two cultures by introducing composers and players alike to the range and virtuosity of Japanese instruments and the musicians who play them. The resulting music provides audiences with a unique introduction to traditional Japanese music within a familiar context and fabulous contemporary music.  Current ensemble partners include the Cassatt and Voxare String Quartets in NYC, the Arianna and Ciompi in MO and NC, Ensemble Epomeo, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra and Orchestra of the Swan in the UK. Players of Japanese instruments include Christopher Yohmei Blaisdel, Masayo Ishigure, Yoko Reikano Kimura, Nami Kineie, Yumi Kurosawa, Riley Lee, John Kaizan Neptune, Yoko Nishi, Akihito Obama and James Nyoraku Schlefer.  Commissioned composers to date include Victoria Bond, Chad Cannon, Ciara Cornelius, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Daron Hagen, Matthew Harris, William Healy, Kento Iwasaki, Mari Kimura, Angel Lam, Daniel Levitan, Gilda Lyons, James Matheson, Paul Moravec, Mark Nowakowski, Somei Satoh, James Nyoraku Schlefer, Benjamin Verdery and Randall Woolf. www.kyoshinan.org

TENRI CULTURAL INSTITUTE AND KYO-SHIN-AN ARTS PRESENT: The excellent acoustics and intimate gallery setting of the Tenri Cultural Institute create a superb setting for listening to chamber music and offer audiences the rare opportunity to hear both traditional and contemporary music from two cultures in a setting similar to the music rooms of the courts and castles of both Europe and Japan. Over 300 years of chamber music tradition are presented throughout this series. Performances feature piano trios and string quartets from the great composers of Europe, music from Japan’s Edo period written for shamisen, koto and shakuhachi and contemporary music combining Western and Japanese instruments. www.artsat.tenri.org

2016-17 Season - upcoming programs:

March 26, 2017: “Kammerraku Snow”.The Cassatt String Quartet; Yoko Reikano Kimura, koto; James Nyoraku Schlefer, shakuhachi; and Juliet Schlefer, soprano will perform commissioned sextets for shakuhachi and koto by Somei Satoh and Yoko Sato plus a sextet for shakuhachi and soprano by Ciara Cornelius. The Cassatt will also premiere new works by Sebastion Currier and Tina Davidson.

April 23, 2017: “Kammerraku Moment”. Duke University’s Ciompi Quartet with James Nyoraku Schlefer, shakuhachi. Featuring the reprise of commissioned quintets by Charles Porter – “Moon Sky” (2010) and Mark Nowakowski – “The 26” (2015), plus the Beethoven Quartet No. 14, op 131.
 
May 21, 2017: “Sakura Tea”. A program of traditional and contemporary music for Japanese instruments and cello featuring Yoko Reikano Kimura, koto and shamisen; Sumie Kaneko, koto and shamisen; James Nyoraku Schlefer, shakuhachi and Hikaru Tamaki, cello. Including Daron Hagen’s “Appassionata” for koto and cello.

© 2016 Kyo-Shin-An Arts