Literally translated as chamber music, kammer from the German and raku from the Japanese
Kammerraku brings Japanese instruments to the Western classical idiom. It’s where the iconic string quartet meets the traditional Japanese sankyoku ensemble. A musical locale where the opulent courts of the Esterhazys meet the formal chambers of Imperial Japan. It’s an evocative sound that blends two timeless traditions within the rhythms, harmonies, melodies and soundscapes of contemporary composers.
Kammerraku is an overarching program comprised of ongoing relationships, single concerts and academic residencies. The name encompasses all of KSA’s work with multiple string quartets, both on its own presenting series in NYC and when touring players of Japanese instruments and concert programs to string quartets in other national locations. Individual concerts combine works featuring Japanese instruments with the standard and/or contemporary repertoire preferred by each string quartet partner. Current partners include the Arianna, Cassatt, Ciompi and Voxare String Quartets.
For audiences, this music is a voyage of discovery. KSA has premiered works for string quartet and Japanese instruments by Victoria Bond, Chad Cannon, Daron Hagen, Takuma Itoh, Paul Moravec, Mark Nowakowski, Thomas Osborne, Charles Porter, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Somei Satoh, James Nyoraku Schlefer and Donald Womack.
The program premiered May 5, 2012, presented by Arts Brookfield at the World Financial Center Winter Garden in NYC. Since that time, performances have been presented from coast to coast – in NYC on KSA’s series at Tenri, in DC at the Kennedy Center, in Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, and North Carolina.
To celebrate its 10th Anniversary, KSA is planning a two-season commissioning project featuringfour septets for sankyoku trio (shakuhachi, koto, and shamisen with voice) and string quartet. The septet instrumentation is an inspiring combination, rich in the textures and sonorities that showcase the virtuosity of two rigorous traditions. It is also an ultimate cultural marriage - two iconic ensembles that both blossomed during the same historical period, one in the opulent court of the Esterházys and the other in the Imperial palaces of Edo Japan. The only extant work for this combination is Dream Corner, composed by Schlefer in 2013. Bringing four more such septets to the repertoire is a major contribution to the repertoire.
The composers are Daron Hagen and James Nyoraku Schlefer for 2019, premiering at Tenri on April 14, 2019, with the Cassatt Quartet and Yoko Sato and James Matheson for 2020, premiering at Tenri in Spring 2020 with the Arianna Quartet. Following the premieres, the repertoire will be presented in either of two formats – as two septets paired with a string quartet or with all four septets presented together as a full-length program. At this time the project has three committed string quartet partners – the Arianna, Cassatt and Ciompi Quartets. The Arianna and Ciompi Quartets respectively anticipate performances at the University of St. Louis Missouri and Duke University.