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Weblog of Kaoru Watanabe, NY based Flute/Fue player

October Update

Fumi Tanakadate

While I was living in Japan the end of the summer was marked by Earth Celebration, Kodo's annual world music festival and the Bon (ancestral) celebration in the town of Ogi where I lived. Earth Celebration to me was an intense period of the year for me- a month of sheer exhaustion from countless rehearsals and meetings, the physical labor of putting up and then taking down a large outdoor stage, high energy performances with top class musicians from across the globe and most important, seeing friends new and old, many of whom come from oceans away for the festivities. 

Life in NY for me doesn't have that relentless backbreaking pace but has a different sort of intensity and fulfillment. In the past couple of months, I debuted a new group, mixing Brazilian and latin jazz musicians and Korean traditional/contemporary music to my own sound. I also continued to develop existing groups and taking part in other people's projects, including an interesting theater project- a brand new work-in-progress that, while set in the Jim Crow era resonates heavily with current day politics regarding immigration, assimilation, racism and violence. 

On a very different note, I was honored to be a judge in an online shinobue competition in Japan. While in close contact with fue players and other instrumentalists of traditional instruments, I don't have the opportunity to interact or hear amateur musicians very often. For those of you interested in seeing how the results and all the participants' entrees, please click here:


Kiyohime on Sado x Chieko Kojima w/ Kaoru Watanabe
Sunday, October 9th | 6pm | $15
ShapeShifter Lab | 18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn, NY 11215

A long time collaborator and friend, Chieko Kojima, one of the founding members of my old group Kodo, will be in NY to give an intensive weekend workshop at my studio. Then on October 9th, we will perform together at Shapeshifter at 6 pm in conjunction with the opening of a photography exhibition by Maiko Miyagawa, someone responsible for many iconic images of Kodo from the last couple of decades. We will be joined by Fumi Tanakadate and Gamin, one of the foremost practitioners of traditional, contemporary and improvisational Korean music. Chieko is a rare performer, able to create fantastical worlds through her movements and rhythm. This concert's main theme is Kiyohime, a character from Japanese folklore made famous in the Noh play Dojoji- a woman whose unrequited love for a buddhist priest transforms her into a giant snake demon.  Fun!
Facebook event page:
ShapeShifter Lab website:
Photo credit: Maiko Miyagawa

The following weekend we will be hosting an intensive weekend workshop as well as short Sunday workshop by two brothers from the Tsumura family, the most renowned practitioners of the traditional festival music of Miyake Island. 

On October 20th, Thursday, I will be performing with another longtime collaborator and friend, the great Kenny Endo at Mansfield Theater Great Falls in Montana. Following soon after that will be lots of traveling for performances and workshops at Cornell University, Brussels, Paris, Hamburg, Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Diego and New York to close out the year. More information to come.

Hope to see you all around!