Internationally acclaimed instrumentalists Hiromitsu Agatsuma (on tsugaru-shamisen) and Akiko Yano (on piano) perform together for one night only on September 27 in the first show of Japan Society’s 2014-15 Performing Arts Season’s multi-month musical program, The Shamisen Sessions. While Yano’s “unpredictable” (Japan Times) sold-out New York shows generally feature her with New York musician friends; for this show she brings her inimitable talents to bear in symphony with Agatsuma, acknowledged as a “fierce virtuoso” (Billboard) and “Japan’s leader in the shamisen trend” (Baltimore Sun). United by their ability to transform the sentimental strains of Japan’s beloved Folk songs (min’yo) into cool, Pop-Jazz tunes, these renowned, Japanese-born musicians share a stage for the first time to improvise, explore and engage with Japan’s musical past, present and future.
The Shamisen Sessions, Vols. 1-4 includes four distinct musical events, all spotlighting the uniquely Japanese, centuries-old three-stringed instrument. From traditional stages to Contemporary Rock, Pop and Jazz concerts, the many styles of the shamisen have long offered an insightful reflection of the shape of Japanese art and entertainment culture. Today, innovative and time-honored approaches to shamisen performance continue to shape the future of both Japanese and world music.
Japan Society’s examination of the versatility and evolution of one of Japan’s most enduring instruments includes performances from Agatsuma and Yano on September 27; Yumiko Tanaka’s shamisen experimental / improvisational accompaniment for Teinosuke Kinugasa’s silent film Crossroads on November 15; A Salute to Tradition on November 20, showcasing three major traditional shamisen musical styles—nagauta (kabuki), gidayu (bunraku) and jiuta (tatami salon concerts)—as performed by Japan’s preeminent instrumentalists and chanters, including a Living National Treasure and a traditional nihon buyo dancer; and an intimate cabaret-style concert with the Okinawan Folk / Pop duo SAKISHIMA meeting on December 12.
All these events will take place at Japan Society, located at 333 East 47th Street. Tickets to all events in The Shamisen Sessions are on sale now. To purchase tickets, please visit this link, or call 212-715-1258.