AGA-SHIO + Music & Rhythms Tour in Africa

Photo of AGA-SHIO + Music & Rhythms Tour in Africa

2010 is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo which also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the independence. It is also an epoch-making year for South Africa which is now hosting FIFA World Cup and the Japan-South Africa Centennial Celebrations. To give a boost to festivities in these two countries, the Japan Foundation presents the tour by a duo of Tsugaru Shamisen and Piano and the ensemble of wadaiko (Japanese drums) and bamboo instruments. The performers will also offer workshops for children in the local communities to enjoy creating musical instruments, composing rhythms, and playing in ensemble.

AGA-SHIO is a duo of Tsugaru Shamisen and piano players who blend the passionate energy of Japanese folk music and the integrity of Western music into whole new Japanese contemporary music. We are looking forward to seeing the reaction of the audience in Africa and the development of the music in these countries. Another guest Music & Rhythms consists of ZA ONDEKOZA, a group of Wadaiko drummers, and Bamboo Orchestra who have been considering the relationship between the nature and music. They will search for the origin of music in Africa as they did in many places around the world, focusing on traditions, the nature, communities, and children. When Japanese musicians rediscover and review their sound and rhythm through the nature, tradition, and life of people in Africa, new cross-border music will be produced. This will be a valuable opportunity to encounter the two exciting front-runners in contemporary Japanese music at once in Africa.

Tour Schedule


Dates: Thursday, June 24 at 15:00
Venue: Stadium des Martyrs

Dates: Friday, June 25 at 13:00
Venue: Radio Télévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC) [nationwide broadcast]

Dates: Saturday, June 26 at 18:00
Venue: Palais du Peuple

Embassy of Japan in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
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In the finale of each performance in Kinsasha, 25 children of age 10 to 20 from Espace Masolo, a local shelter for street children, will appear on the stage to show their achievements in the workshop.


Dates: Thursday, July 1; Friday, July 2; and Saturday, July 3
Venue: National Arts Festival

<<National Arts Festival>>
It is the greatest international arts festival in South Africa held in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, in late June to early July each year. It covers wide ranges of arts, including theater, dance, music, paintings and crafts, films, poetry and literature, and attracts tens of thousands visitors around the world. This is the first time in its 35 years of history that performers from Japan officially participate in the festival.

Embassy of Japan in South Africa
"Japan-South Africa Centennial Celebrations" (PDF:External link)

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Prior to performances in Grahamstown, on Monday, June 28, the performers will hold a workshop at Orland orphanage in Soweto for about 30 children of ages 6 to 10.



Akira KatogiThe unit “AGA-SHIO” was formed by a shamisen player Hiromitsu Agatsuma and a pianist Satoru Shionoya aiming at fusing eastern and western instruments; Tsugaru Shamisen, a Japanese traditional musical instrument and piano.
2 musicians met when Agatsuma released an album "Beyond" in January 2004. Agatsuma had been aspiring Shionoya’s work and eagerly asked him to participate in the creation of the album. A piece called "Kimieno-Omoi" (Thought of you) was created.  Since then, they have been performing together in the live concerts and started to respect and share the similar view on their musicality though they played music instruments on different cultural backgrounds. Their friendship furthered to form a unit in 2009.  The music and sound expressed in their first album “AGA-SHIO” are a completely new style of Japan-originated contemporary music which entails strong energy that Japanese folk music produces as well as the consistency performed by piano. The CD, released on November 2009, earned critical acclaim as it hit unprecedented musicality.

AGATSUMA, Hiromitsu: Shamisen

Photo of AGATSUMA, Hiromitsu: Shamisen
Born in 1973, Ibaraki/Japan

Agatsuma started Tsugaru-Shamisen when he was six years old. He won the numerous music competitions in his youth which garnered attention among traditional Japanese music scene.  Aside from his reputation, he was passionate to push his boundary and often collaborated with jazz and rock musicians.  He made a CD debut “AGATSUMA” in 2001. His 1st and 6th albums won the prestigious "Japan Gold Disk Award” – an honor given to whoever marked the largest record sales of that year.  He has actively collaborated with musicians abroad, such as Marcus Miller and Herbie Hancock to name a few.  Other activities include acoustic live concerts solely playing folk music, and provide a class-room acoustic live at the elementary schools all over Japan.  He tirelessly pursues both "Tradition and Innovation” of the Tsugaru-Shamisen through his performances.

SHIONOYA, Satoru: Piano, Composer and Producer

Photo of SHIONOYA, Satoru: Piano, Composer and Producer
Born in 1966, Tokyo/Japan

Graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Composition major. He has been a core member of Japanese salsa group “Orquesta de la Luz”, which won the United Nations Peace Medal in ‘93 and U.S. Grammy Award nominee in ’95.  He became a soloist in 1993 and released 11 original albums up to present. His activities and collaborators diversify;from performing Mozart Piano Concerto; collaborating with a world renowned jazz pianist Makoto Ozone and jazz trumpeter Sadao Watanabe; leading a big band on the World Expo Aichi 2005 to numerous J-pop musicians such as Ayaka, Ken Hirai and Miki Imai.

Music and Rhythms

SHIONOYA, Satoru: Piano, Composer and ProducerThis is a musical activity started in 2005 focusing on communities, the nature, children, and music to revitalize local communities and to encourage creativity from children’s points of view and physical movements. In this workshop, under the direction of world-class performers including ZA ONDEKOZA and the Bamboo Orchestra, children will create music with instruments they will make themselves from bamboo, wood, and rocks from the nature of suburbs in Tokyo. They have performed in Jeju, Mount Fuji, and the “Tomin Hiroba” adjoining the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. In addition to the annual performance “Music and Rhythms Tokyo Kids,” a collaboration with Setouchi International Art Festival is scheduled in 2010.

ZA ONDEKOZA: Wadaiko (Japanese drums)

SHIONOYA, Satoru: Piano, Composer and Producer

Hometown of ZA ONDEKOZA is the city of Mt. Fuji in Shizuoka.
They subjects themselves to the discipline which spontaneously generated from their group living and perform all over the world as “Fuji no yama ZA ONDEKOZA.”
ZA ONDEKOZA was conceived by director Tagayasu Den, and organized on Sado Island in 1969.
In 1975 youngsters shocked their audience when they jumped on stage for its debut performance just after running the Boston Marathon.
Performance of ZA ONDEKOZA is based on the logic “Sogakuron”, “Running” and “Music” are one, and it is a reflection of the drama and energy of life. ZA ONDEKOZA’s unprecedented running tour, beginning in 1990 at Carnegie Hall in N.Y., was a compilation of its thought. Until the returning memorial concert at Carnegie hall in Nov. 12, 1993, 355 performances through running 1,071days and 14,910 km were done.  After performing at opening ceremony of the Paralympics Nagano in 1998, a new running tour “long Journey” (12,500km) in China began in April, looking for completion before the 2010 Shanghai EXPO. In 2004 ZA ONDEKOZA went back to Boston Marathon where they debuted in 1975 and ran 1,200km spending about 1 and a half months from April to June, 2005 by "Taiwanese marathon live tour" in Taiwan, and performed in various places and performed from January to February, 2006 to the EU tour (14 time performance) in the Croatia, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. On April 18, 2008, they had the 40th anniversary concert at the National Theater in Tokyo. 
Running, Beating, and Dancing on the earth. Their challenge still continues for the 21st century.

Participants in Africa tour: Seizan Matsuda, Yusuke Wakabayashi, Naohiro Kodama, Raiki Machida, Shigeru Tateishi

SHIONOYA, Satoru: Piano, Composer and Producer

Official Website

Bamboo Orchestra is the first orchestra in Japan composed of instruments made of bamboo, including a variety of instruments from Asian countries, Japanese traditional instruments such as Shakuhachi, Shinobue, and Sho, as well as original inventions. The sound of Jegog made of huge moso bamboo shakes your body and the tender tone of flutes speaks to you gently. The variety of tones and the sounds that give bodily sensation produce the cross-border and cross-genre earthy sound from Asia. Today, Bamboo Orchestra is based in Tokyo and Marseille, France. They appeared in the 5th International Bamboo Congress (in Costa Rica) in 1998 and participated in the musical “Tsuki no Yoru no Monogatari (A story on the night of moonlight)” in Indonesia, a collaborative project of Asian countries in 1999. They also offer workshops on bamboo instruments in Japan and abroad to provide opportunities to made musical instruments with bamboos and to enjoy playing new sounds.  Through production, practices, and performances of musical instruments, they offer cross-generation exchanges and musical experiences. They are also contributing to music lessons at schools and musical therapies.
Instruments in Bamboo Orchestra include Maui Marimba, Jegog, Angklung, Slittam, Pinjakan, Shinobue, Shakuhachi, Sho, and Take-Marimba.
Participants in Africa tour: Kimihiro Kitamura, Kuniko Kato

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The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Section, Arts and Culture Dept., The Japan Foundation
Contact: Momoko Ouchi (Ms)
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