KAMMERRAKU III brings together two classic chamber music ensembles - the string quartet and the Japanese sankyoku - for the world premiere of Dream Corner, by James Nyoraku Schlefer. This KSA commission is a septet for string quartet, shakuhachi, koto, shamisen and voice. It's a distinctive combination of two classic chamber music ensembles, the string quartet and the Japanese sankyoku, and this may be the first piece ever written for this combination of instruments. Set to two poems by Ono no Komachi, Dream Corner tells the story of two lovers who can only meet when they dream at the same time. The program will also feature the Cassatt performing Dvorak's "American Quartet" and a classic Edo period sankyoku "Yachio Jishi" - Lion of Eight Thousand Generations, for shakuhachi, koto and shamisen.
Cassatt Quartet: Muneko Itami, Jennifer Leshnower, Sarah Adams, Nicole Johnson
Ensemble KSA: Masayo Ishigure, Koto; Yoko Reikano Kimura, Shamisen; James Nyoraku Schlefer, Shakuhachi
About the Performers
Acclaimed as one of America's outstanding ensembles, the Manhattan based Cassatt String Quartet has performed throughout North America, Europe, and the Far East, with appearances at New York's Alice Tully Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Tanglewood Music Theater, the Kennedy Center and Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Theatre des Champs-Élysées in Paris and Maeda Hall in Tokyo. The Quartet has been presented on major radio stations such as National Public Radio's Performance Today, Boston's WGBH, New York's WQXR and WNYC, and on Canada's CBC Radio and Radio France.
Formed in 1985 with the encouragement of the Juilliard Quartet, the Cassatt initiated and served as the inaugural participants in Juilliard's Young Artists Quartet Program. Their numerous awards include a Tanglewood C hamber Music Fellowship, the Wardwell Chamber Music Fellowship at Yale (where they served as teaching assistants to the Tokyo Quartet), First Prizes at the Fischoff and Coleman Chamber Music Competitions, two top prizes at the Banff International String Quartet Competition, two CMA/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, a recording grant from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, and commissioning grants from Meet the Composer and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2004, they were selected for the centennial celebration of the Coleman Chamber Music Association in Pasadena, California. The Cassatt celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2006 with a series of world-premieres, a performance at the Library of Congress on the Library's Stradivarius Collection and gave concerts for the American Academy in Rome, Cornell and Syracuse Universities and were guest clinicians at the Texas Music Educators Association. Summer highlights include their residency at the innovative Seal Bay Festival of Contemporary American Chamber Music in Maine and their debut at New York City's River to River Celebration with the multi-media premiere of Mari Kimura's "One" written for quartet, computer and interactive graphics by renowned Japanese film maker Tomoyuki Kato, with image programming by Onishi and visual production by Chisako Hasegawa. They return to the Big Sky Music Festival (MT) with cellist, Hamilton Cheifetz and to Music Mountain(CT) and Bargemusic (NY) with pianist, Ursula Oppens.
The 2013-14 season marks the Cassatt's first performance at the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (AR) with the premiere of Bruce Adolphe's "Mary Cassatt; Scenes from Her Life" inspired by their collection and a mini-residency at the University of Central Arkansas. In November, the Quartet will collaborate with Kyo-Shin-An Arts at the Tenri Cultural Center in New York City to give the premiere of James Nyoraku Schlefer'sSeptet for koto, shakuhachi, shamisen and quartet, followed by a joint residency in April 2014, at the University of Hawaii. The Cassatt will also appear at Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Studies, the Honolulu Chamber Music Series, the Pleasantville Friends of Music (NY), and the Treetops Chamber Music Society (CT) with harpist, Lisa Tannenbaum. As Symphony Space resident "All-Stars", they offer multiple recitals featuring Peter Schikele and the premiere of Tania Leon's Piano Quintet with pianist, Ursula Oppens. Finally they return to their eighth annual Texas educational residency, Cassatt In The Basin! which includes intensive workshops, coachings and rehearsals of a commissioned work for Triple Quartet, in a side-by-side performance of students with the Cassatt.
Equally adept at classical masterpieces and contemporary music, the Cassatt has collaborated with a remarkable array of artists/composers including pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, soprano Susan Narucki, flutist Ransom Wilson, jazz pianist Fred Hersch, didgeridoo player Simon 7, the Trisha Brown Dance Company, distinguished members of the Cleveland and Vermeer Quartets, and composers Louis Andriessen and John Harbison. With a deep commitment to nurturing young musicians, the Cassatt, in residencies at Princeton, Yale, Syracuse University, the University at Buffalo and the University of Pennsylvania, has devoted itself to coaching, conducting sectionals and reading student composers' works, while offering lively musical presentations in music theory, history and composition. Selected by Chamber Music America, they served as guest artists for their New Music Institute; a series to help presenters market new music to their audiences.
Named three times by The New Yorker magazine's Best Of...CD Selection, the Cassatt's discography includes eclectic new quartets by Pulitizer Prize-winner Steven Stucky and Tina Davidson (Albany Records), by Daniel S. Godfrey (Koch International Classics) and by Grawemeyer and Rome Prize-winner Sebastian Currier (New World) as critiqued in The New York Times (Quartetset) was written for the Cassatt... which plays it strongly here." The Cassatt has recorded for the Koch, Naxos, New World, Point, CRI, Tzadik and Albany labels and is named for the celebrated American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt.
Masayo Ishigure began playing the koto and jiuta shamisen at the age of five in Gifu, Japan. After initial studies with Tadao and Kazue Sawai she became a special research student in 1986 at the Sawai Koto Academy of Music. The aim of the academy was to shed new light on koto music by incorporating everything from Bach to jazz and thus change the koto from being thought of only as a traditional Japanese instrument into an instrument of universal expressiveness. Later Ms. Ishigure became one of a small group of virtuoso disciples of the Sawais and successfully completed the 33rd Ikusei-kai program sponsored by NHK to foster and train aspiring artists in Japanese music. In 1988, Ms. Ishigure received a degree in Japanese Traditional Music at Takasaki Junior Arts College with a concentration on koto and shamisen. The same year she was recorded on the CD entitled "The World of Tadao Sawai". She played koto and shamisen on the educational video. In 1994 she appeared on the CD entitled "Tori no Yoni": (Flying Like a Bird) Tadao Sawai compositions.
Since arriving in New York City in 1992 Ms.Ishigure has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall-Weill Recital Hall, BAM, Merkin Hall, Trinity Church,Symphony Space and other venues in the New York City metropolitan area. She has performed at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and other prestigious Colleges and Universities. She made several duo appearances with NY City Ballet Principal Dancer Mr. Peter Boal, and was guest artist with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, New Haven Symphony Orchestra,Boston Modern Orchestra Project. And Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Ishigure has appeared in concerts for the World Music Institute, Japan Society, Music from Japan, China Institute, and many others. She has also participated in music festivals in Japan, Thailand, Brazil, Holland, France, Germany and has performed in Russia, Belarus, Jamaica, Hawaii, Alaska, and many venues throughout the US.
In 2001 and 2005, Ms. Ishigure and several of her students performed with koto master Kazue Sawai at the Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. In 2005 she and her students also appeared with Kazue Sawai at Towson University in Maryland and the Asia Society in NYC. She has been featured in two public television broadcasts, Music Under New York, and World of Music. In 1997, she recorded koto music for CBS Master Work for use during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. She has recorded koto music for use in several television commercials. Since 1992, Ms. Ishigure has been teaching koto and shamisen in the music department of Wesleyan University (CT) as an artist in residence where she formed the Wesleyan Koto Ensemble and Columbia University(NY) She also offers private lessons as the only Sawai Koto Academy Instructor in the New York City and Washington DC area. She recorded music for the soundtrack of the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" by John Williams in 2005 along with Yitzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, and others.
Koto/shamisen performer and singer, Yoko Reikano Kimura has concertized around the world. The New York Times described her shamisen playing and singing as "superb." For her koto playing, she was touted as "beautiful" and "genuinely talented" by Hogaku no Tomo (Japan). She has graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts and Music. She continued her studies at the NHK School for Young Professionals and the Institute of Traditional Japanese Music. Yoko received a scholarship from the Agency of Culture Affairs of Japan. Her teachers include Kono Kameyama (Yamada school), Akiko Nishigata (contemporary shamisen music), and a Living National Treasure, Senko Yamabiko (Kato-bushi shamisen). Yoko received her stage name "Reikano" from Hiroko Nakanoshima VI and "Reiko Yamabiko" for her Kato-bushi shamisen playing. She is continuing her performances in Japan and holds a teaching position at the Institute of Traditional Japanese Music, an affiliate of Senzoku Gakuen College of Music. Yoko has won numerous awards including the First Prize at the prestigious 10th Kenjun Memorial National Koto Competition as the first Yamada school player. Yoko won the Debut Concert Audition at Toppan Hall, Tokyo and received the First Prize and the Osaka Chinese Counsel Award at the Great Wall International Music Competition. She won the Japanese music audition for NHK FM radio on solo shamisen. In 2004 she performed "Shamisen concerto" at the National Olympic Memorial Center. In 2008 she performed at the Kabuki-za in Tokyo for the play, "Sukeroku" starring Danjuro Ichikawa XII. In 2011 she was awarded the Janet Latz Professional Fellowship with her husband, Hikaru Tamaki. As a koto/ shamisen soloist and collaborator, Yoko has performed with many first-rate traditional Japanese performers and worked with such artists/musicians as Heiner Goebbels, the Wien Soristen Trio, Arianna Quartet, Ciompi Quartet, Euclid Quartet, Ikuro Fujiwara, Junko Koshino, Kenny Endo, Yasuko Yokoshi. Since 2004, Yoko has performed in such places as Poland, Switzerland, France, Lithuania, Korea, China, Israel, Qatar, Italy, Turkey and the South America.
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. Schlefer 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. As a composer, he 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.
Mr. Schlefer's composition style draws upon his deep connections to Western classical and rock music, as well as traditional and modern styles of Japanese music. He writes for koto, shamisen, and shakuhachi, with and without Western instruments, combining these instruments with piano trio, string quartet and orchestra. Mr. Schlefer has been commissioned by Dancing in the Streets and PearsonWidrig Dance Theater, with the support of the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust (now the AMC) Live Music for Dance Program; the Sartori Ensemble, SONOS Chamber Orchestra and Kyo-Shin-An Arts, with three world premieres in New York and Kyoto in 2012. His most recently completed commission is a Concertante for chamber orchestra with solo shakuhachi, koto, violin and cello that premiered on May 31, 2013, with Orchestra of the Swan.
"James Nyoraku Schlefer occupies a special place in [New York's] cultural life, composing and performing music that bridges Western and Japanese styles." The New Yorker