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Brian Mitsuhiro Wong
 

Press Release August 8, 2007 doc


Debut concert September 16, 2007
 

 

 

 

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Shaei  (video)

 

 

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August 2007
Contact:  Shirley M. Wong
510/482-1640
skmkoto@comcast.net

Brian Mitsuhiro Wong

Winner of Japan’s 2006 "Grand Prix" Award Koto Competition

A New Face of Koto in America Appearing in Debut Concert

September 16, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Old First Concerts, San Francisco

  • Brian Mitsuhiro Wong, an American of Asian descent, is adding an American perspective to the new movement of Japanese traditional instruments currently popular in the music scene of Japan. 

Wong plays the koto, a 13-stringed zither-like instrument that is also gaining recognition in the United States. He will display his incredible talents appearing in his debut concert with the Old First Concert Series to be held on Sunday, September 16, 2007 at 4 pm in San Francisco.

Wong, 22, won Japan’s “Grand Prix” award for achieving the highest scores on his teaching exams for the Japanese Koto from the Sawai Soukyokuin Koto Conservatory in Tokyo, Japan in July 2006, surpassing many Japanese native candidates.

He will perform new koto music, including two numbers by Hikaru Sawai, whose influence as a former rock guitarist has inspired Koto works, such as solo number “Shaei” (“Diagonal Shadows”), which won the 1992 14th Ministry of Cultural Affairs Performing Arts Grand Prix Award . Wong will also perform a number that is rarely performed in concert, “Tsubasa Ni Notte” (“on the Wings of a Bird”), a mesmerizing number by Tadao Sawai. He will add a new spin to the classical “Rokudan” (“Six Movements”). The last part of his program will feature Wong playing jazz Koto with Eric Garcia/percussion, Colin Hogan/piano, and Tommy Folen/bass.

Wong, a Bay Area native, continues a brilliant legacy of Koto performance in America that spans three generations, and has roots in the internment camps of World War II. His mother, Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto, also a Koto teacher and talented musician with the Murasaki Ensemble, taught Wong how to play the Koto from the age of 4.

Wong has performed at Yoshi’s Jazz Club as a featured artist with the Murasaki Ensemble. Also an accomplished jazz saxophonist, he has performed at Yoshi’s Jazz Club with the Cal State University Jazz Ensembles, and with the Oaktown Jazz Workshop. He has also performed in concert with Koto masters Kazue Sawai and Hikaru Sawai.

Details: Koto concert, featuring Brian Mitsuhiro Wong, special guests include Shoko Hikage, Shirley Muramoto, Eric Garcia/percussion, Colin Hogan/piano, and Tommy Folen/bass.

Sunday, September 16, 2007, 4p.m., Old First Concerts, 1751 Sacramento Street, 94109 (at Van Ness), San Francisco, www.oldfirstconcerts.org 415/474-1608. Tickets: $15/general, $12/seniors and students w/ID

BIOGRAPHY – Brian Mitsuhiro Wong

Brian Mitsuhiro Wong, San Francisco Bay Area native, continues a brilliant legacy of koto performance that spans three generations, and has roots in the internment camps of World War II. His mother, Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto, also a Koto teacher and talented musician with the Murasaki Ensemble, taught Wong how to play the Koto from the age of 4.

At the age of 16, Brian attended a concert by Madame Kazue Sawai, the leading performer of modern Koto music in Japan. Sawai Sensei’s performance was not sedate as traditional Koto performances normally are, but dynamic and exciting, as her expertise and highly technical performance ranged from classical to modern. She rarely sat at the Koto, and sometimes even danced around it. Wong was inspired by her performance, and decided to continue his studies on the Koto from Sawai Sensei at an invitation from her to become an “uchi deshi” or live-in student at the Sawai Soukyokuin Koto Conservatory in Tokyo, Japan.

At age 21, Wong won Japan’s “Grand Prix” award for achieving the highest scores on his teaching exams for the Japanese Koto from the Sawai Soukyokuin in Tokyo, Japan in July 2006, surpassing many Japanese native candidates. (The Koto is a 13-stringed zither-like instrument, with origins in China. One of the few traditional instruments that retains its original from ancient times, it is also considered the national instrument of Japan).

At his young age of 22, Wong’s experience includes performances of jazz Koto with the Cal State University East Bay at Hayward’s Jazz Ensemble at the Montreux, Umbria and Vienne Jazz Festivals in Europe, introducing new compositions written by himself and other young composers from UC Berkeley and Cal State University East Bay at Hayward, and assisted in teaching Koto classes and offering private lessons. Wong has performed at Yoshi’s Jazz Club as a featured artist with the Murasaki Ensemble. He has also performed Koto in concert with Koto masters Kazue Sawai and Hikaru Sawai. An accomplished jazz saxophonist, he has performed with the Cal State University Jazz Ensembles, and with the Oaktown Jazz Workshop. Wong says his life mentors are his mother and father.

“My dad is a very wise man,” says Wong. “At one time, he was a real estate agent, and always said the thing to remember when you’re dealing with real estate is how to solve other people’s problems. That’s how I look at music. Music can help people solve their own problems, because it helps them to develop sensitivity toward their own feelings and emotions.”

Upcoming Performances:

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Performing with Shoko Hikage

Hillside Club Concert Series

Berkeley, CA

www.hillsideclub.org

 

Sunday, January 19, 2008

Performing with Kazue Sawai, Koto Master from Japan

 Stanford University, Campbell Recital Hall

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