*1 Tomoya Nakai (Koto, 25-stringed koto),
Born at Tsu city in Mie prefecture, Nakai is a Japanese koto harp, Sangen (three-string) and 25-stringed koto performer and composer. He graduated from the traditional Japanese music course of the Faculty of Music of Tokyo University of the Arts. He started to play koto from the age of 6 and Sangen from the age of 12, devoting himself to these studies of classical koto as well as Jiuta shamisen. By mastering the 25-stringed koto, with its broader range of sound, he continued to pursue the possibilities and artistic range of the koto. Nakai has also ventured into composing and arrangement and pursued a style that blends the classical with modern music. He has created a wide range of works that draw on Japanese traditional literature and Noh as well as mythology from around the world. Abroad, he has engaged in international exchanges under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Japan’s Embassies, and in 2018, he participated in programs celebrating the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Sweden.
*2 Sho Asano (the Tsugaru shamisen)
Born 1990 in Sendai, Asano is a Tsugaru shamisen performer. At the encouragement of his grandfather, be began playing the Wadaiko (Japanese drum) at the age of 3 and the Tsugaru shamisen at the age of 5, studying under Tokuo Odashima, the 2nd master of the Sangen Odashima-ryu school. At the age of 7 he became the youngest participant ever in the Tsugaru Shamisen National Convention (Hirosaki). From the following year he began a string of records as youngest-ever class winner. In 2004, at the age of 14 he the youngest winner ever in Class A of the Tsugaru Shamisen National Convention. He continued to win the Class A competition for three straight times until 2006 and was nominated for membership in the Convention’s Hall of Fame. At the age of 17 he made his major debut, and in 2008, he gave a live solo performance in Washington D.C. He went on to a performance tour of Canada in April and May of that year, and in September of 2011, he participated in a “Sho Asano & Ensemble” Tour in Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) presented by the Japan Foundation.
*3 Suiho Tosha (traditional Japanese flute performer)
Born 1979 in Tokyo, Tosha is flute performer of the Shinobue Japanese transverse bamboo flute. He studied under his grandfather, Shuho Tosha, his uncle, Meisho Tosha, and his father, Yoshio Nakagawa. He went on to complete the graduate course at the Tokyo University of the Arts. He is recipient of the Jokan Award, the Doseikai New Artist of the Year Award, the Acanthus Music Award. In 2004, he was given the artist name Tosha Suiho, the former name of his uncle. In 2011, Tosha was recommended for the National Theater of Japan’s Emerging Artist Award in Traditional Japanese Dance and Music. He has performed throughout Japan and abroad, and his activities include performances in the Ryoma Quartet of violin and traditional Japanese instrument performers.
*4 Taishi Yamabe (Taiko)
Born 1988 in Okayama Prefecture. He became familiar with drums from the age of 3 and first performed on stage at the age of 6. At the age of 16 he won the highest award at youngest age ever in the Tokyo International Japanese Drum Competition / Big Drums Division. Yamabe has pursued a wide range of collaborations with entertainers such as Japanese Enka singers, the internet character Kyary Pamyu Pamyu as well as Japanese Pop and Rock musicians, and he has also expanded his activities as a professional musician overseas. He has also participated in the Japanese concert WA! Of the large-scale international entertainment series FUERZA BRUTA, which has attracted total audience of more than 5 million in 30 countries and regions around the world.
*5 Kakushin Tomoyoshi (Satsuma Biwa)
Born 1965 in Tokyo. Tomoyoshi began taking lessons from an early age in a range of traditional Japanese arts, and with the encouragement of his father he began to study the art of Satsuma Biwa under Kinshi Tsuruta. In addition to performances of the traditional repertory, he has also continued to perform in collaboration with musicians from other genres both in Japan and abroad. Recently, he has also performed biwa music for the video game Monster Hunter. Tomoyoshi has also worked as a consultant on traditional performing arts for some long-running TV dramas on NHK (Japan’s National Broadcasting Corporation) and is a regular on NHK Radio programs.
*6 “Shuko no Hana”
With main members including the Kabuki actor Somegoro Ichikawa VII (now Koshiro Matsumoto, head of the Matsumoto school of Nihon Buyo), the Nihon Buyo artist Kanjuro Fujima (head of the Sōke Fujima school) and Kikunojo Onoe (head of the Onoe school of Nihon Buyo), this group was active from 2008 to 2014 giving performances that that went beyond classical Kabuki to present programs representing a varied range of interests. As one of the young Kabuki actors participating, Kazutaro used the name Shunko to write and direct productions including Wakagi Kurabe Naniwa no Hishiori (2013).
*7 Kabuki Academy “Kabuki School for Children – Terakoya”
This was a school (workshop) organized by the Shochiku Company with instructors actually involved in Kabuki for the purpose of teaching children such those involved in Nihon Buyo dance and child actors acting in Kabuki such skills required for movement (such as control of the hem) and proper etiquette when wearing traditional Japanese costume. In the summer of 2019, the students of this school performed in a production of the play Yon-Yushi (Four Heroes). Kazutaro wrote, directed and choreographed and arranged the music for the production.
Rooted in the Noh play Okina, which combines a ceremony of holy music praying for peace in the realm, the Sanbaso dance is said to be a celebration of an abundant harvest and is characterized by a rigorous beating of time with the feet to firm up the ground for farming, while the ringing of bells represents the sowing of seeds, which suggests the wish for abundant harvests to come. And elements of it can be seen in Kabuki and Ningyo Joruri (Japanese puppet theater with narrative recitation and dialog accompanied by a shamisen) and also the various folk arts and puppet plays that remain in regions around Japan.
The Kanginshu is an early 16th century collection of 311 Japanese songs and ballads that was popular in the Muromachi Period.
*10 Art Kabuki Music Live
This project is a spin-off from ART Kabuki in which the main traditional instrument performers from that production, namely Sho Asano (Tsugaru shamisen), Suiho Tosha (traditional Japanese flute), Tomoya Nakai (25-stringed koto) and Taishi Yamabe (Taiko drum) perform concerts. Also participating in the concerts will be Kazutaro and other dancers.