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Traditional Japanese music features Koto, Shamisen, Shakuhachi, and voice
(Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)—The unique sound of traditional Japanese music will fill Foy Concert Hall when Ensemble East performs at Moravian College on September 24 at 7:30 p.m. Ensemble East is a traditional Japanese music ensemble of Koto, Shamisen, Shakuhachi and Voice. From tales of the Geisha, to the poetry of nature, the stories of old Japan unfold in this rich musical tradition. Modern solo and ensemble music bring contemporary relevance to their programs. Concerts are enlivened with text translations, historical background, and program notes.
Masayo Ishigure, a native of Japan, began studying the Koto at a very early age and later studied under the modern school of Koto music of Tadao and Kazue Sawai. She graduated from Takasaki Junior College Music Department in 1987. She was awarded the honor of participating in the 33rd "Ikusaikai" program sponsored by NHK (Japanese Broadcasting Corporation), a program to foster aspiring artists in traditional Japanese music, which she completed in 1988.
Her koto performances since coming to the United States have included various venues in the New York area such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Natural History, Weil Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, The Japan Society, and several Universities including Harvard and Yale. In March, 1999, Ms. Ishigure gave a recital of new and traditional koto and shamisen music at New York's Greenwich House School of Music. She has also performed in France, Hawaii, with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, and several other concerts throughout the United States. In December, 2002 she made her BAM Cafe debut with 2 nights of duo concerts featuring shakuhachi flute and koto. In January 2003 Ishigure performed "Midare," a traditional koto piece with NYC Ballet Principal Dancer Mr. Peter Boal concerts at the Guggenheim Museum.
Called "A Master of the Shakuhachi" by The New York Times, James Nyoraku Schlefer is a leading performer and teacher of shakuhachi in New York City. He received the Dai-Shi-Han or Grand Master's Certificate in 2001, one of only a handful of non-Japanese to receive this high level award. In Japan he has worked with Aoki Reibo, Yokoyama Katsuya, Yoshio Kurahashi, Yoshinobu Taniguchi, and Mitsuhashi Kifu, and his primary teacher in New York was Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin. He holds a Master's degree in Western flute and musicology from Queens College and currently teaches music history courses at the City University of New York. He has performed at Lincoln Center, Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, BAM, the World Financial Center, the Metropolitan, Brooklyn, Philadelphia Museums, and the Knitting Factory. Schlefer has three solo recordings, Wind Heart (which travels 120,000,000 miles aboard the Space Station MIR), Solstice Spirit (1998) and Flare Up (2002). His music has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered.
General Admission is $12, $6 for senior citizens, students, and children 12 and under. Foy Concert Hall is located on the Hurd Campus in downtown Historic Bethlehem at Main and Church Streets. For tickets and more information, call610-861-1650 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.