Artist Profile: Minamisanriku and Chile – To Our Faraway Friends, With All My Heart –

High school students from disaster-stricken regions in Chile and Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, exchange gifts of poems and songs across the Pacific Ocean.

Artist Profiles

Hōshō-gumi

Photo of Hōshō-gumi Hōshō-gumi is a quartet from Sukagawa City, Fukushima Prefecture. The group was formed with min’yo folk singer Hōshō Kominato (the second iemoto master of Kominato-style min’yo), his wife Mitsuru, daughter Miwa, and son Akihisa in 1996 to perform at NHK’s six-night super concert “Jōmon Kairō.” While each member pursues their own career as a traditional min’yo or hōgaku Japanese music artist, they also actively perform min’yo folk songs with artists of Asian music, jazz and other genres. In July 2012, they performed at the Tohoku Rokkon Festival in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, an event held as part of the recovery efforts after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and were a great success. For the “To Our Faraway Friends, With All My Heart” project, they arranged some of the poems written by students at the workshops into traditional hōgaku Japanese music to introduce Japanese music culture to Chile.

Hōshō Kominato

Hōshō Kominato is a min’yo artist, born in 1955 in Fukushima Prefecture. He began singing at age three, and at seven, started studying shakuhachi, taiko drums, shamisen, and traditional dance under the late Hōdō Tanii I. After graduating from junior high school, he apprenticed with the Ibaraki Prefecture Isobushi Preservation Society and assumed the name of Hōshō Kominato three years later. Ever since, he has been performing as a shakuhachi player and playing on min’yo records and programs. In 1980, he began writing, arranging, and producing music, and also appearing on NHK and other television programs. In 1982, he became the Fukushima district chairman of the Nihon Kyodo Min’yo Kyokai (Japan Min’yo Association). While pursuing his career as a min’yo musician, he has also been creating Awa Uta (Asia-Japan) songs, in search of connections with Asian music. In 2002, he became an honorary master certified by the Nihon Kyodo Min’yo Kyokai. Today, he is involved in wide-ranging activities, teaching min’yo to others, and writing and arranging individual pieces.

Mitsuru Kominato

Mitsuru Kominato is a min’yo singer, born in 1956 in Iwate Prefecture. She started learning folk songs in her local min’yo group at age 10, and went on to win first or second place in several competitions, including the Iwate Prefecture Governor’s Cup Min’yo Contest and the nationwide Nihon Kyodo Min’yo Kyokai contest. In 1978, she signed with Toshiba Records, and in 1979 passed an NHK audition for hōgaku music. In 1980, she was invited to the garden party at the prime minister’s residence. She has been involved in various stage productions and media activities since this time, and has been a regular assistant on the NHK programs “Nihon no Min’yo (Min’yo Folk Songs of Japan)” and “Tohoku Hour Min’yo de Kombanwa (Tohoku Hour Good Evening with Min’yo Folk Songs).” In 1995, she performed at the Peony Festival in Luoyang City, China. She has been giving singing lessons and teaching the shamisen, mainly in Sukagawa City, where she resides in Fukushima Prefecture, while also performing on stage and appearing on television/radio programs.

Miwa Kominato

Singer Miwa Kominato was born in 1977 in Fukushima Prefecture. She has been performing on stage since a very young age, winning many min’yo contests. In 1999, she became a member of Taiyo to Ciscomoon, a pop idol group formed through a reality show audition, and debuted with the single “Tsuki to Taiyo (Moon and Sun).” She later began her career as a solo singer and also broadened her activities, becoming an emcee, narrator, and radio personality. In 2003, she formed the group called Priest with her younger brother and shakuhachi player Akihisa Kominato. Their activities include live performances based on a fusion of min’yo and Japanese pop music. They are also involved in projects to introduce Japanese traditions and culture – min’yo folk music in particular – and held a workshop for children called Hōgaku ni Fureru Kai (Opportunity to Feel Traditional Japanese Music). In November 2011, she joined the Italy tour of Neo Japanesque 2011 Sousei Kagura.
http://www.kominato.com/komix/

Akihisa Kominato

Akihisa Kominato is a shakuhachi player, born in 1978 in Fukushima Prefecture. He is the eldest son of the iemoto master of Kominato-style folk music, and was taught by his parents. He began performing on stage at age five, and in 1985 won the highest award at the Min’yo Contest for Boys and Girls. Ten years later in 1995 he began studying under the late Goro Yamaguchi, a national treasure. He majored in the shakuhachi at Tokyo University of the Arts and graduated in 2001. Currently he is involved in various activities that transcend the boundaries of hogaku, Japanese classics, min’yo, pop music, and jazz, and is busy appearing on television/radio programs and performing in concerts and events in Japan and abroad. Besides opening a shakuhachi school, he also formed the group called Priest with his sister Miwa Kominato. He is also a member of the Japanese instrumental band ZAN, as well as the instrumental group AEKA. In 2006, he became a member of the shakuhachi trio Hannya Teikoku and performed in New York. He toured Hungary in 2009, and performed at the Shanghai Expo in 2010.
http://www.kominato.com/aki/

Masataka Sato

Photo of Masataka Sato Guitarist Masataka Sato was born in 1973 in Miyagi Prefecture. Taught by his parents, he started playing the guitar at age three. In 1988, he won the First Sendai International Guitar Festival, Junior Guitar Contest, and Sendai Mayor’s Prize. He has performed at international guitar festivals in Cuba, Japan, and Germany since 2000, and studied with internationally renowned guitarists such as Oscar Ghiglia. In 2003, he began performing concerts mainly in the Tohoku region. In 2007, he began “Guitar +,” a self-produced chamber music series. Not stopping at classical music, he also performs with musicians of other diverse genres. He has been recognized for his musical skills and has garnered attention as a young promising guitarist. While heading the Sendai Guitar School, he also teaches the guitar at universities, high schools, and junior high schools in Miyagi Prefecture. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, he has performed at memorial gatherings and ceremonies held throughout the region. For the project “To Our Faraway Friends, With All My Heart,” he wrote a song based on the melodies created by the students.
http://www.s-g-s.info

Keko Yunge

Photo of Keko Yunge Born in 1962 in Santiago, Chile, Keko Yunge is known as a singer-songwriter. Since his debut in 1984, he has been known nationwide as a popular singer, releasing a number of hit songs. He has released nine CD albums so far and his Best Album containing his hit songs from the last twenty years was a platinum disc. In addition, Keko has played in several foreign countries such as Canada, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Spain, and Uruguay. Right after the Chile Earthquake on February 27, 2010, he started to work for society through music on a full scale, releasing "Arriba los sueños," a song dedicated to Chile and the people in the disaster area. As the director of Culture and Sports of NPO Desafío Levantemos Chile, Keko is involved in support projects for the disaster area such as DoReMi Project, which aimed to popularize music education, offering musical instruments to the disaster and poverty areas. He also worked in a concert titled "Blue Planet. If you live, I live," which was arranged to raise the awareness of people for environmental protection (www.planetaazul.cl ). For the current project, Keko composed a song from the stories written by the students of the third grade of class B of Gabriela Mistral School in Constitución, the area affected by the Chile Earthquake. Also, he conveys the message from the students of Gabriela Mistral School enclosed in the song to Minamisanriku.
http://www.ky.cl/

<Message from Yunge to the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake>

“The emotions of kindness and love have traveled across the Pacific, connecting people together as friends who have survived the same experience full of sadness and fear. This bond is illuminated with hope, recovery, dreams, and love. We now know that we are always together with our new friends across the horizon. We are not alone, we are never in solitude!”

Hector “Tito” Pezoa

A guitarist, Hector “Tito” Pezoa, was born in 1957 in Santiago, Chile. He started his career as a musician in 1970. In 1974, he entered in University of Chile, majoring in music education. Later on, Hector joined more than a hundred recordings and performances of various musicians and singers as a session musician. He formed “And Midnight Sun,” a rock-fusion band in 1980 and released five CD albums with the band. Having been recognized for his contribution to the music scene in Chile, Hector received an award from the Ministry of Education, and in 1999, he was awarded the Best Performer award by the Copyright Society of Chile. Hector has worked with Keko Yunge for the last fifteen years.

Laura Bryer

A violinist, Laura Bryer, was born in 1971 in West Sussex in the UK. She taught violin at Harringay Professional Development Centre in London. Having had worked as the Musical Director and a violinist of Grup de Teatre Poble Sec in Barcelona, Spain, Laura served as the Executive Director and Performer in Forest Row Camerata in the UK. Since 2012, she has played for concerts in different places in Chile, as a member of the Andres Bello University Camerata and as a sub-violinist of the Symphony Orchestra of Chile.

Coordinator Profile

Yumi Yoshikawa

Yumi Yoshikawa is a producer, known for her work with the Tohoku Rokkon Festival parade. She directs the cultural creation activities of the Hachinohe Portal Museum "Hacchi" in Hachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, and is a lecturer at Miyagi University. Her Kiriko art project with the women of Minamisanriku dates prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake, making the stories of the townsfolk visible through traditional kiriko paper decorations. In 2012, she embarked on her "Mirai wo Utani(Songs for the future of Minamisanriku)" project, involving five elementary schools in Minamisanriku; students were asked to write songs about the year since the earthquake, and these songs were performed at the memorial ceremony on March 11, 2012.
http://www.envisi.org

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