MEG FAGAN, Producer

Press Releases

Press Contact: Meg Fagan, Producer • Kyo-Shin-An Arts • 718-832-5435 • meg@nyoraku.com

A 2016 and 2013 CMA/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award Winner, KYO-SHIN-AN ARTS is a contemporary music organization dedicated to the integration of the Japanese instruments koto, shakuhachi and shamisen into Western classical composition. Kyo-Shin-An Arts’ award-winning concert series at the Tenri Cultural Institute in Manhattan features a blend of KSA commissions with World, American and NY premieres, traditional and contemporary music for Japanese instruments and Western repertoire.


Sunday, April 23, 2017, 4:00 PM
Tenri Cultural Institute, 43A West 13th Street, New York City

The Ciompi String Quartet:
Eric Pritchard and Hsiao-mei Ku, violins – Jonathan Bagg, viola – Fred Raimi, cello
James Nyoraku Schlefer, shakuhachi.

Duke University’s Ciompi Quartet with James Nyoraku Schlefer, shakuhachi. Featuring commissioned quintets by Charles Porter: “Moon Sky” (2010) and Mark Nowakowski : “The 26” (2015), plus Entr’acte for String Quartet by Caroline Adelaide Shaw and the Beethoven Quartet in D Major, Op. 18 #3

Tickets $25/15  at  brownpapertickets.com or 1-800-838-3006


Moon Sky by Charles Porter (2010 KSA commission)
The 26 by Somei Satoh (2015 KSA commission) 
Entr’acte by Caroline Adelaide Shaw 
Quartet in D Major, Op. 18 #3 by Ludwig v. Beethoven 

PROGRAM NOTE FOR “The 26” by Mark Nowakowski:

“When I first began to compose 'The 26' for James Nyoraku Schlefer, I found myself drawn to the famous story of the 26 Franciscan Martyrs of Japan. This led me to Sushako Endo's searing and complex novel 'Silence', whose mood would ultimately permeate the heart of the music I would write. As the months passed and 'The 26' took shape, the world witnessed the rise of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, along with their single-minded desire to eradicate Christianity from their respective parts of the world (while Western leaders remained curiously silent.) Suddenly the now distant sacrifice of these martyrs for Japan – and the very real human fears and struggles which must have accompanied their fate – became tragically prescient as the terrible stories and images continued to pour out of Africa and the Middle East. There was no way that I could write music about these terrible events, but the events could not help but find their way into this music. The work's opening notes – initially imagined as an echo of the excitement of the beginning of an ancient journey – also took on the character of the previous vibrancy of these now dispersed ancient communities. Concurrently the psychological complexity of the martyrdom of the Japanese 26 – a struggle given such incredible treatment in Endo's novel – found itself replayed in recent months by two rows of men kneeling on the beaches of Libya, facing west for a 'message in blood.'

Regardless of the views or religion of those who perform and hear this music, I hope that they can find a way to share in both the initial enthusiasm and final sad fate of these martyrs old and new, and join me in wishing for the day when their heroism will have outlived the brutal groups which sought their deaths. As for me, I cannot help but think that these brave men, women, and children now reside in the unapproachable light, with their suffering now only a brief memory in the face of eternity.”


The CIOMPI QUARTET was founded at Duke University in 1965, by the renowned Italian violinist Giorgio Ciompi, and all its members are professors at Duke where they play a leading role in the Universiy’s cultural life. The ensemble also travels extensively and recent US concerts have ranged from Washington State to California, Texas, New York, Washington DC and New England. Performances abroad have included concerts in China, France, Italy, Germany, Prague, Serbia and Albania. In the summer the Quartet has performed at Monadnock Music in New Hampshire, at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in Michigan, North Carolina’s Eastern Music Festival and Highlands Chamber Music Festival. Collaborations have included performances with the distinguished talents of pianists Bella Davidovich, Menahem Pressler and James Tocco, the Borromeo Quartet, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, soprano Tony Arnold, and jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon, among many others. The Quartet’s commitment to creative programming often mixes the old and the brand new in exciting ways. Close ties to composers such as Paul Schoenfield, Stephen Jaffe, Scott Lindroth, and Melinda Wagner have produced important contributions to the repertoire; the quartet recently premiered Stephen Jaffe’s Third String Quartet and Lindroth’s Cello Quintet, written for the Ciompi and cellist Ashley Bathgate. The group’s latest recordings are on Toccata Classics (a string quartet by 19th century violin virtuoso Heinrich Ernst), and Naxos, which released “Journey to the West” by Chiayu Hsu in 2015; also on Naxos online is a recording of the quartets of Paul Schoenfield including the popular “Tales from Chelm.” Numerous other discs are on the CRI, Arabesque, Albany, Gasparo, and Sheffield Lab labels, with music from Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, up through the present. www.ciompi.org

JAMES NYORAKU SCHLEFER is a Grand Master of the shakuhachi and one of only a handful of non-Japanese artists to have achieved this rank. He received the Dai-Shi-Han (Grand Master) certificate in 2001, and his second Shi-Han certificate in 2008, from the Mujuan Dojo in Kyoto. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Tanglewood and BAM, as well as multiple venues across the country and in Japan, Indonesia, Brazil and Europe. Mr. Schlefer first encountered the shakuhachi in 1979, while working towards a career as a flute player and pursuing an advanced degree in musicology at CUNY (Queens College.) Today, he is considered by his colleagues to be one of most influential Western practitioners of this distinctive art form. As a composer, Mr. Schlefer has written multiple chamber and orchestral works combining Japanese and Western instruments as well as numerous pieces solely for traditional Japanese instruments. Mr. Schlefer is the Artistic Director of Kyo-Shin-An Arts and the curator for the Japanese music series at the Tenri Cultural Institute in NYC. He teaches shakuhachi at Columbia University, a broad spectrum of Western and World music courses at New York City Technical College (CUNY), and performs and lectures at colleges and universities throughout the United States. In December 2015, Mr. Schlefer was recognized by Musical America Worldwide for his work both as a composer and as Artistic Director of  Kyo-Shin-An Arts, as one of their “30 Top Professionals and Key Influencers”. www.nyoraku.com

MARK NOWAKOWSKI is a composer whose works represent a modern merger of bold expressionism and mystical contemplation, Slavic pathos and American individualism.  His music has been commissioned and performed by such notables as the Kronos Quartet, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, The Monteverdi Cello Octet, The Voxare Quartet, Kyo-Shin-An Arts, the FiveOne Experimental Orchestra, Three Notch’d Road, Stowarzyszenia Mozart, Vox Musica of Sacramento, the Choir of the Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Dominican House of Studies Schola, the wind ensembles at the University of Maryland, Ursinus College, and Illinois State University, and the Cracow Brass Quintet. Mark received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Maryland, where he also won the biennial Walsum Award for Excellence in Music Composition.  He holds a Professional Studies degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he was Assistant Director of the CIM New Music Festival and was awarded the Donald Erb Prize in Composition.  He holds his Masters from the University of Colorado, and two undergraduate degrees from Illinois State University. Composition teachers include Paul Schoenfield, Daniel Kellogg, Mark Wilson, Margaret Brouwer, Larry Moss, Steven Taylor, John Drumheller, and Michael Theodore.  He has taught at the University of Maryland, Christendom College, Benedictine University, and DuPage College of Illinois, and currently serves on the faculty of music at Kent State Stark. www.marknowakowski.com

CHARLES PORTER has composed over one hundred works including orchestral pieces, chamber works, choral settings, song cycles, and music for the theatre.  His compositions have been heard throughout the United States and in Canada.  Among the performers of his works are the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the Tanglewood Fellows Orchestra, the Haydn-Mozart Chamber Orchestra, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Da Capo Chamber Players, The Pro Arte String Quartet, and the Alliance for American Song.  Porter’s many awards and honors include a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a Composition Fellowship at Tanglewood, Yaddo residencies, ASCAP Awards, and a winning entry in the ISCM Composer’s Competition.  Porter earned a Ph.D. from the City University of New York, and holds additional degrees from Queens College/CUNY and Oberlin College.  He is a Professor of Music at New York City College of Technology/CUNY. 

KYO-SHIN-AN ARTS: Kyo-Shin-An Arts' is a contemporary music organization with a mission to commission music and present concerts that bring Japanese instruments – specifically koto, shakuhachi and shamisen – to Western classical music. A 2016 and 2013 CMA/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award winner (small presenter, mixed repertory), Kyo-Shin-An Arts will be presenting its 7th chamber music season at the Tenri Cultural Institute.. KSA works in partnership with established ensembles and Western soloists, bridging two cultures by introducing composers and players alike to the range and virtuosity of Japanese instruments and the musicians who play them. The resulting music provides audiences with a unique introduction to traditional Japanese music within a familiar context and fabulous contemporary music.  Current ensemble partners include the Cassatt and Voxare String Quartets in NYC, the Arianna and Ciompi in MO and NC, Ensemble Epomeo, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra and Orchestra of the Swan in the UK. Players of Japanese instruments include Christopher Yohmei Blaisdel, Masayo Ishigure, Yoko Reikano Kimura, Nami Kineie, Yumi Kurosawa, Riley Lee, John Kaizan Neptune, Yoko Nishi, Akihito Obama and James Nyoraku Schlefer.  Commissioned composers to date include Victoria Bond, Chad Cannon, Ciara Cornelius, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Daron Hagen, Matthew Harris, William Healy, Kento Iwasaki, Mari Kimura, Angel Lam, Daniel Levitan, Gilda Lyons, James Matheson, Paul Moravec, Mark Nowakowski, Somei Satoh, James Nyoraku Schlefer, Benjamin Verdery and Randall Woolf. www.kyoshinan.org

TENRI CULTURAL INSTITUTE AND KYO-SHIN-AN ARTS PRESENT: The excellent acoustics and intimate gallery setting of the Tenri Cultural Institute create a superb setting for listening to chamber music and offer audiences the rare opportunity to hear both traditional and contemporary music from two cultures in a setting similar to the music rooms of the courts and castles of both Europe and Japan. Over 300 years of chamber music tradition are presented throughout this series. Performances feature piano trios and string quartets from the great composers of Europe, music from Japan’s Edo period written for shamisen, koto and shakuhachi and contemporary music combining Western and Japanese instruments. www.artsat.tenri.org

2016-17 Season - upcoming program:

May 21, 2017: “Sakura Tea”. A program of traditional and contemporary music for Japanese instruments and cello featuring Yoko Reikano Kimura, koto and shamisen; Sumie Kaneko, koto and shamisen; James Nyoraku Schlefer, shakuhachi and Hikaru Tamaki, cello. Including Daron Hagen’s “Misterioso” for koto and cello.




© 2016 Kyo-Shin-An Arts