Yukiko Matsuyama and Saeko Kujiraoka
PASADENA — A koto duo concert with dance performance will be presented on Saturday, June 25, at 5 p.m. at Lineage Performing Arts Center, 89 S. Fair Oaks Ave. in Pasadena.
Kotoists Yukiko Matsuyama and Saeko Kujiraoka will appear with harpist Miriam Suzuki and Ken Dance Company (Kenji Yamaguchi, artistic director).
Osaka-born Matsuyama (www.yukikomatsuyama.com) pushes the boundries of the ancient koto, infusing her compositions with world rhythms, Western instrumentation, and the colors and textures of her homeland.
From performing with Shakira at the Latin Grammy Awards, recording with Paul Winter on his Grammy-winning album “Miho: Journey to the Mountain” (Best New Age Album), to performing with Motown legend James Gadson, she shares the sound of the koto with diverse audiences worldwide.
Kujiraoka (www.saekokoto.com) began studying the Ikuta technique of koto playing in Tokyo. She received an advanced degree in koto, sangen, and classical singing from the Michio Miyagi School of Koto in Japan.
In the U.S., she joined the Koto String Society as a member of the staff, and founded the Koto Eda Group. She teaches private koto lessons in the Los Angeles area and performs at colleges, museums and various receptions.
Involved in various collaborations, she has formed the Harp & Koto Duo with Suzuki and played with the Yerak Ensemble (cross-cultural jazz group), Japan America Chamber Ensemble (http://jacemusic.org/), and jazz and bossa nova groups.
She has been involved in movie soundtrack recordings, including “Kung Fu Panda,” and reveals new perspectives on the sound of koto through her arrangement of pops and jazz standard like the songs of Michael Jackson, The Beatles and Chick Corea.
Suzuki is dedicated to the pursuit of lyrical, inspirational music that touches the heart. Music has been a part of her life from birth. Surrounded by a musical family, she started her musical journey with a piano at the age of 5. Two years later, she discovered what would be the passion of her life: the harp.
She continued playing the piano in Helsinki, Finland. In 1983, she moved to Southern California, which offered a fresh environment where she explored the world of composition as well as developed her own distinctive sound. Her fusion of genres, from classical to pop, Celtic to traditional, is influenced by her cultural background and life experiences, with a foundation lovingly built in her hometown near Kyoto.
Los Angeles has been a constant inspiration for her, adding a unique touch to her repertoire. The blending of cultures, ideas, and mediums spurred her to try a mixture of her own, partnering with Kujiraoka to form the Harp & Koto Duo (www.harpandkoto.com). The traditional Japanese instrument adds a unique resonance when paired with the romantic notes of the harp, creating a poetic tribute to the cultural diversity that makes her who she is today.
Ken Dance Company
Yamaguchi is Japan-born and CalArts-trained. He currently teaches at USC and Millennium Dance Complex in the NoHo Arts District.
Ken Dance Company (http://kendancecompany.weebly.com/) expresses a delicate Japanese aesthetic to classic dance technique and training. It strives to expand the range of expression, harmonize East and West, to bring to audiences an openness and unity that will brighten their experience and inspire people and cultures to come closer together.
Admission is $25 in advance, $30 at the door. For ticket info, call (760) 576-KOTO or email firstname.lastname@example.org.