An Evening of Japanese Culture at the Library

A Japanese music and history program, featuring three accomplished musicians and three traditional instruments, is scheduled for 6-7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 10. Michael Chikuzen Gould will play shakuhachi , a bamboo flute; and Chieko Iwazaki will play both the shamisen, a lute, and koto which is a type of zither. Kuniyasu Iwazaki also plays the shakuhachi and will be joining his wife and Chikuzen.

Shamisen and shakuhachi form an ancient musical partnership that dates back to eight century Buddhist monks in Japan. Compositions, both contemporary and traditional, accompanied by stories, will be featured Wednesday evening.

This concert is free and open to the public at the Cody library.

Gould lived in Japan from 1980 to 1997 and studied shakuhachi under renowned masters Taniguchi Yoshinobu and Yokoyama Katsuya. Gould earned a “Shihan” (Master of Shakuhachi) in 1987 and was given the name “Chikuzen.”

In 1994, he became one of only a handful of non-Japanese to hold the title of “Dai Shihan” (Grand Master of Shakuhachi). After returning to the U.S., Chikuzen taught Zen Buddhism and shakuhachi at the University of Michigan, Oberlin College, and Wittenberg University.

Mrs. Iwazaki began studying the koto (Japanese zither) at the age of five and the shamisen (Japanese lute) at the age of 10. She trained under the guidance of Haruko Kurabe, a well-known teacher in the Kyushu style of shamisen and studied the koto under Ono Mamoru of the Soumei Music Guild.

Although Mrs. Iwazaki currently lives in her hometown of Kyoto, Japan, where she teaches and performs, she lived in Connecticut from 1997-2002. There, she performed and taught along the east coast. She continues to return to the U.S. once or twice a year for performances and workshops. In 1998 she released her first CD titled “Kyoto Breeze”.

Mr. Iwazaki began learning the shakuhachi in 1974 and has studied under several of the most prominent teachers in Japan. He retired from his design engineering occupation in 2001 and turned to a professional shakuhachi career. Mr. Iwazaki specializes in Kokyoku music, the older Japanese chamber music with the koto and shamisen.  He is also based in Kyoto, where he teaches can often be heard in concert with his wife, Mrs. Chieko Iwazaki.

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