Happy New Year to one and all!
As 2014 comes to an end, I'm feeling immense gratitude for all the people who've given me the opportunity to share my music and art. Trying to make a living in New York as an artist is a constant challenge- full of instability, doubt and frustration and having a young child to support makes things that much more complicated. However, all these challenges only makes one's resolve stronger and the rewards that much sweeter.
This year, I had the great pleasure to perform with a wide variety of artists including Elena Moon Park, Sachiyo Ito, Sumie Kaneko, Shane Shanahan, Kenny Endo, Motions with Tim Keiper, Matt Kilmer and Chris Dingman, Adam Rudolph, Tetsuro Naito, Patrick Graham, TaikOz, So Percussion, Hadi Eldebek, Ned Rothenberg, Jerome Harris, Samm Bennett, On Ensemble, Abe Lagrimas, Chieko Kojima and Eichi Saito from Kodo, Semba Kiyohiko, Kaori Takahashi, Ralph Samuelson, Steve Gorn, Tamango, Shogo Yoshi, Satoshi Takeishi, Shoko Nagai and Jonathan Goldberger, Ne-O Ensemble, Gutbucket and Marvin Sewell with performances in Sydney, Tokyo and Fukushima, Montreal, Puerto Rico, LA, SF, NY and DC. I taught another semester at Princeton University, did workshops and performances through such organizations as the Silk Road Project, Midori and Friends, the Japanese Consulate, Music From Japan and others.
In terms of my educational activities, my taiko school, the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center (KWTC) enjoyed the first full year in our Crown Heights space. Besides teaching weekly classes, we hosted three weekend long intensives, led by Tetsuro Naito and Patrick Graham, Kazuhiro and Hidenori Tsumura from Miyake Island and Chieko Kojima from Kodo, as well as two workshops by Shoji Kameda from On Ensemble. Also, I'm proud to be one of the instructors for kaDON, an online taiko and fue instructional series presented by one of the most respected taiko makers in Japan, Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten.
As for some things that I'm looking forward to in 2015, performances in LA and Japan in the Spring and some fun touring in the fall. Also, I'll be teaching alongside and performing with Yo Yo Ma and other inspiring artists in June as part of the Silk Road Projects Global Musician Workshop. I've been composing a lot recently and am starting to see new directions that my music is heading in.
Besides all the people mentioned above, I'm thankful for Ranjo, the man responsible for making all of my amazing shinobue bamboo flutes for his continued support, guidance and friendship. None of my activities would be possible without my wonderful family stretched wide across the US and Japan.
Most importantly, I give thanks to my wife Mari and daughter Shinobu for their sacrifice, their fire and love.
Happy New Year to all!