News Release

“The World of Kabuki Music”

Shamisen music lecture/demonstration and concert
February 29, 2004 Sunday, at 2:30 p.m.
at James Armstrong Theater in Torrance, CA.


This concert is designed to introduce and promote appreciation of Japanese Kabuki music, especially the shamisen instrument by lecture demonstrations and performances by Japan’s prominent Grand Master (Iemoto) of Nagauta, Kineya Yakichi Vlll. Nagauta is a music form developed along with Kabuki in Japan and has a history of 400 years. Its music consists of shamisen (three stringed instrument) and singers along with percussion called Hayashi. It forms an orchestra and provides music for Japanese classical dances or is performed alone.

Kineya Yakichi Vlll

He was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1939 and began his training in Japanese classical music at an early age. He graduated from Tokyo National Conservatory with a Master’s Degree majoring in Nagauta music. He studied under the late Shotaro Yamada and Hiromitsu Kikuoka, both Japanese National Living Treasures. While he was in college he won a competition in composing Nagauta and received the most honored award from the school.After graduating theConservatory he became a professional performer and teacher.

He came to the United States in 1981 and 1986 as a member of a group which was sent by the Japanese Government Arts Agency to perform and give lecture demonstrations. He also went to the Republic of China in 1989 for the same mission. He received the very prestigious Arts Festival Award by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan in 1991.

In 1999, he became Grand Meester Kineya Yakichi Vlll after his mentor Kineya Yakichi Vll passed away. (In Japan there are a limited number of Grand Masters whose names are passed down by blood lineage or to his prot├ęg

He is holding a position on the Executive Board of the Nagauta Association and is a committee member of Hogaku Shinko Kikin Shinsa Kai (Committee for the Fostering of Japanese Music). His special interest is historical Tokyo called Edo. He was born in the center of Edo called Asakusa so he researches lost nagauta music and Asakusa related nagauta, revives the music and brings it back into performance. He also composed many new nagauta numbers commissioned by dancers and local governments.

Ever since he became the Grand Master he has been giving his own recitals every year besides performing, composing and teaching. Also, he is trying to educate and teach shamisen music to general audiences and school children. He began volunteering his time to local schools and it has led to developing a teaching booklet of his own.

Program of “World of Kabuki Music”

A. Lecture Demonstration on Shamisen instrument and Nagauta music.

B. Nagauta Concerts

1. Shamisen instrumental suites.

2. Classic repertoire: ” Nanko” Stories of famous samurai father and young son. Favorite subject of prewar Japan.

3. Classic repertoire: “Utsubo Zaru” Kabuki dance number derived from Kyogen. Story of street performing monkey, trainer and Daimyo (Samurai load).

C. Kabuki Dance: “Ninin Wankyu” Sad love story of rich merchant’s son, Wankyu, and Oiran (Courtesan) Matsuyama.

This three part, total two hours, program is design not only to introduce shamisen instrument & nagauta by lecture demonstration but intends to introduce supreme examples of Kabuki music to Los Angeles people. Therefore, especially intricate numbers are chosen. For that the top rated four shamisen players and four singers are coming with the GrandMaster. Also two Hayashi players (one fue player and a master percussionist) to lead Katada Kai of USA , the local hayashi group headed by Katada Kikusa. Well known Japanese dance master, Wakayagi Masahiko, will be coming to dance with a local dance master, Wakayagi Hisami.

Grand Master Kineya Yakichi Vlll is one of the younger Iemoto – Grand Masters who graduated from the National Music Conservatory and is very active in promoting Nagauta music throughout Japan. He is coming from Tokyo with 10 other top-rated musicians for this concert. This concert includes a lecture demonstration on the shamisen instrument and Nagauta music. Also there will be a classical Kabuki dance number presented by Japan’s noted dancer Wakayagi Masahiko. He will be joined by a local dance master Wakayagi Hisami and present Ninin Wankyu.

It is going to be presented at the James Armstrong Theater in Torrance, California at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday , February 29, 2004. Tickets for World of Kabuki Music priced at $25.00 and $20 for student with ID, are on sale at James Armstrong Theater Box Office at (310) 781-7171. James Armstrong Theater is located in the South Bay section of Los Angeles at the corner of Torrance Blvd. and Madrona , 3330 Civic Center Drive , Torrance CA 90503. The theater is a part of the Torrance Cultural Arts Center Complex. Parking is free.

“Three day Shamisen Workshops”

March 5, 6 and 7, 2004
at Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Little Tokyo L.A. open to public for three levels: novice, intermediate and master class

Grand Master Kineya Yakichi Vlll
Grand Master Kineya Yakichi Vlll

Three day shamisen workshops are a rare opportunity. Grand Master Kineya Yakichi Vlll will conduct workshops for novice, intermediate and master classes on the following weekend of March 5, 6 and 7 at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 224 So. San Pedro St., Los Angeles CA 90012.

Novice class is for people who have never played the shamisen to learn the basics. Instruments will be provided. Intermediate class is for people who have experience playing and Master class is for experts only with emphasis on improving technique. Each class is for three days, two hours each, and the fee is $100 per participant.

Exact schedules for this are not decided yet but Friday is in the evening, Saturday and Sunday will be afternoon. For more information and registration please call Mikko Henson at (310) 378-3550 or email: Class will be limited to 10 participants each. First come first serve basis.

This project is made possible by grants from the Japan Foundation and the National Endowment of Arts through Alliance for California Traditional Arts and supported by the Consulate General of Japan Los Angeles office, Japan America Society of SC, City of Torrance and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center.