First Full-length U.S. Solo Concert of Japan's Modern Shakuhachi Master Take Place at Brooklyn's Roulette

Kinya Sogawa: Shakuhachi Exploration

One Night Only! Sunday, September 23, 2012, 5:00 pm

OFF-SITE Event at Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn

Brooklyn, NY -- Tokyo shakuhachi virtuoso Kinya Sogawa makes his much-anticipated full length U.S. debut performance at Roulette in the concert Kinya Sogawa: Shakuhachi Exploration co-presented by Japan Society and Roulette, and featuring appearances by Sogawa’s masterful shakuhachi colleagues Elizabeth Brown, Ned Rothenberg, Ralph Samuelson and Laurie Sogawa.

Both a brilliant performer and acclaimed instrument maker, unique in the shakuhachi world, Kinya Sogawa is active in diverse genres of traditional and contemporary music, including popular enka songs and video game scores and sound effects.  Exploring the multifaceted beauty, power and versatility of the shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute, in this all-shakuhachi concert Sogawa performs a wide range of music from meditative solo pieces passed down by the komuso wandering monks of the 17th century to new 21st century works by composers Ned Rothenberg and Elizabeth Brown that expand the sonic language of that tradition, creating new possibilities for the instrument.

The shakuhachi is a simple but elegant vertical end-blown flute made of thick-walled Japanese bamboo. It takes its name from the standard length of the instrument in traditional measuring units, 1 shaku (approximately 1 foot) plus8 (hachi) sun (approximately 1 ¼ inch x 8), although instruments of longer or shorter lengths may also be used. The traditional shakuhachi has five finger holes, four in the front and one in the back. The shakuhachi first appeared in Japan in the seventh century with instruments of the court orchestra (gagaku) imported from T'ang Dynasty China, but it disappeared from that gagaku ensemble by the end of the ninth century. The shakuhachi’s history went unrecorded for some centuries and only later reappeared in the hands of wandering beggar monks, who in the early 1600s coalesced into a formal Zen Buddhist sect, the Fuke sect, which chose the blowing of the shakuhachi as its primary spiritual practice. In this context a rich body of solo music, called honkyokyu ("original music"), developed over the next 250 years and is still performed today in a variety of styles. 

In conjunction with Kinya Sogawa: Shakuhachi Exploration, Japan Society presents a suite of workshopsfor performers, composers and instrument makers, all led by Japan's shakuhachi virtuoso Kinya Sogawa, who trained under shakuhachi master Katsuya Yokoyama and apprenticed with distinguished shakuhachi craftsman Chikusen Tamai. All workshops take place at Japan Society, 333 East 47th St., NY, NYC. For reservations or more information call Japan Society’s box office at 212-715-1258 or visit

Breath, Sound & Form: A Workshop for Shakuhachi Players

Saturday, September 16; Beginners 2:00-3:45 pm, Intermediate/Advanced: 4:00-5:45 pm

Beginners (at least minimal shakuhachi playing experience) learn principles of sound production, breath control and finger technique, and study a basic traditional honkyoku piece.  Intermediate/advanced players (two or more years of performing experience) explore deeper fundamentals, musical forms and structure through the detailed study of a honkyoku. $40/$35 Japan Society & Roulette members. Maximum: 15 participants for beginner session; 20 participants for intermediate/advanced session. Participants in either session are encouraged to attend the other session at no additional cost. Instruments provided upon request, reservation mandatory; call 212-715-1220. Observer tickets may be available after participant tickets sell out.

Making & Playing Your Own Shakuhachi: A Workshop in Shakuhachi Craftsmanship

Sunday, September 16, 2:00-6:00 pm

Participants craft their own functional shakuhachi, from the beginning stages of cutting and drilling raw bamboo stock, to refining the mouthpiece, tuning finger holes and shaping the inner bore. Participants: $60 / $55 Japan Society & Roulette members (price includes materials). Maximum: 20 participants. Sold Out. Observers: $9/$6 Japan Society & Roulette members. Participants should have experience working with hand tools, and preferably with cutting bamboo. Please wear comfortable clothes. 

The Shakuhachi & Contemporary Music: A Workshop for Composers

Saturday, September 22, 2:00-5:00 pm

Composers are introduced to the unique character of the shakuhachi through the performance of several short traditional and contemporary pieces, a demonstration of special techniques, and an introduction to form and pitch relationships. $35/$30 Japan Society & Roulette members. Maximum: 20 participants. Composition experience required. 

Roulette – one of New York City’s premiere venues for experimental music for over 33 years - has reopened bigger and better than ever. Located in a newly renovated 1920s Art Deco concert hall in Downtown Brooklyn, the new Roulette features two levels of seating for up to 400 people (600 standing), an expanded multi-channel sound system, projection screen for film and multi-media events, state-of-the-art lighting system, modular stage, and a specially designed floor to accommodate dance. Teamed with bold new programming, the new Roulette promises to be one of the most exciting places in New York City - if not the country - to experience adventurous music and art.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences.  At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia.  An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. 

Kinya Sogawa: Shakuhachi Exploration takes place Sunday, September 23, 5:00 pm.Roulette is located at 509 Atlantic Ave. Brooklyn (accessible by the 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR). Tickets are $15/$10 Roulette and Japan Society members, students and seniors. For reservations or more information, visit or call 917-267-0363.

Lucy Walters, Roulette,

Shannon Jowett, Japan Society,, 212-715-1205

Kuniko Shiobara, Japan Society,, 212-715-1249

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