I'm back in NY after being off and on the road for the past couple of months with Kenny Endo, celebrating his 40 years of playing taiko. As always, the more we play, the freer we become with the music, the more adventurous we become with our approach. Kenny sensei is the type of bandleader I love working with- someone who embraces change and experimentation and who graciously invites members of the band bring their own music into the program.
Back to NY life- last week, I had a gig playing taiko and flute with the Composers Concordance big band and a few nights later, I performed my own music at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in celebration of the 100th anniversary of their Asian Wing. I felt the artwork resonated with my instruments profoundly, both in terms of historical context as well as in actual sound. My music has roots in the culture of eras that the scrolls, screens, statues and sculptures represented - from the Heian period through modern times.
I was also happy that one of my long time students and musical associates, Fumi Tanakadate, had her debut as a shinobue player. She was able to handle some very difficult music with grace on both fue and taiko. Please watch out for more of her in the future.
Upcoming, I have a few performances before the year end, including my last performance of the year on Dec 20th, a Sunday afternoon concert that will feature all of my taiko students, my professional ensemble and special guests shamisen player Sumie Kaneko, percussionist Shane Shanahan (from the Silk Road Ensemble) and none other than the great Kenny Endo himself. Please check in at watanabekaoru.com for updates on this show as well as others (listing below)
Also, my good friend, Masayo Ishigure will be having a koto recital with some wonderful musicians. Among her many accomplishments, she played koto for the film Memoirs of a Geisha. I unfortunately cannot make it but strongly encourage others to go!
If I don't see you in 2015, I'm looking forward to seeing you all soon in 2016. Amongst other things, I have a new record coming out in the Spring- more on that soon!