Michiko Kurata

Michiko Kurata is a Japanese dancer and choreographer specializing in traditional Japanese dance. She began studying nihon buyō at age 2 and modern dance at age 8. After winning first place in the junior division of the prestigious National Dance Contest at age 15, she attained natori status and earned her professional name Hanayagi Sukekatsumi 花柳輔佳津美. She has offered solo performances at major theaters in Tokyo, such as the National Theatre and the Kabukiza Theatre. Since arriving in Boston, she has collaborated with Grand Master of shakuhachi Elizabeth Reian Bennett, performed classical works such as “Musume Dojoji,” “Tenaraiko” and “Sagimusume” with NY-based instrumentalists Kaoru Watanabe and Sumie Kaneko, and choreographed her own original dances for each new season of Bamboo & Cherry Blossoms. With classical training in nihon buyō as a foundation, Michiko has expanded her technique to include elements of modern dance, jazz, classical Indian dance, flamenco, salsa, Argentine tango, West African dance, and contact improvisation. She remains strong in her commitment to classical dance, as she stretches the limits of movement in kimono. She has presented lectures and workshops on Japanese dance at numerous schools and institutions, including Wellesley College, Boston College, and Brandeis University.

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Claudia Erland

Based in Boston and in southern Tuscany, Claudia Erland performs and studies Japanese koto with the head of the Sawai Koto Academy in New York, Masayo Ishigure. Claudia discovered koto in 1984 while living in Japan, later joining Kyoko Okamoto’s branch of the Toho Koto Society in Washington DC. Since then she has joined Ishigure’s Miyabi Koto Ensemble in NYC and Bamboo & Cherry Blossoms in Boston, offering annual recitals also at the Chiesa di Sant’Andrea in Castiglioncello del Trinoro in Tuscany, and performances at the International Shakuhachi Festival in Prague. A native of Boston and a pre-college piano student through NEC, it was her experience in Japan which eventually led her to focus exclusively on koto and its multiple repertories. Exploring various combinations of koto with Western instruments, she has collaborated with acclaimed Irish harpist Lily Neill – appearing as guest artist on Neill’s album Without Words – and has recorded two CDs with the Washington Toho Koto Society, “Celebration 1973-1993” and “Silver Anniversary 1971-1996.” She has performed at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence for then Crown Prince, now Emperor Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko, and at the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery, the New York Asia Society, and the Sydney Conservatorium, among others.

Chris Molina

Chris Molina is a doctoral student and graduate instructor at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa and a Graduate Fellow at the East-West Center. A native of Boston and a graduate of the University of Michigan and Middlebury College, his previous teachers include William Bolcom, Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty and Su Lian Tan. Molina’s original works combine world instruments with classical – celebrating acoustic music, jazz and folk idioms, as well as aesthetics relating to nature. His compositions have been premiered by the St. Petersburg and Takács Quartets, the University of Michigan and the Sage City Symphonies, by koto virtuoso Mieko Miyazaki and gayageum virtuoso Jiyoung Yi. His concertino Little Baicai, Big City for Chinese dizi and Western orchestra was premiered by the Shanghai Philharmonic in November 2016. Ongoing projects include collaborations with Chinese guzheng and erhu, Korean gayageum and ajaeng, and Japanese koto, shamisen and shakuhachi. He is currently pursuing a performer’s license in shakuhachi as a student of Matama Kazushi and the Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshūkan, and he is a member of the organizing team for Shakuhachi Festival of the Pacific 2017. He performs regularly in both Honolulu and Boston, as well as in shakuhachi festivals in the US, Europe and Japan.

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