Sankyoku: An Evening of Japanese Music

Oct 29, 2016
04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
State Theatre, Downtown State College

The classical music of Edo period Japan was fostered by a long period of relative peace and prosperity which enabled the emergence of a rich musical tradition involving the instruments koto, shamisen and shakuhachi together with the jiuta singing voice. This complex crisscrossing of melodic layers, coupled with the thematic sung poem, yields an extraordinarily beautiful listening experience. Sankyoku is often composed around themes of love, loss, nature and the evanescence of life. Yoko Hiraoka presents this world-class Sankyoku ensemble in collaboration with Ralph Samuelson, one of the finest shakuhachi players in the world, in a concert to engage and delight audiences of all kinds.

The concert comprises musical performances interspersed with illustrated lecture components, talking about the origin of the music and its relationships to Japanese literature and culture.

Ralph Samuelson is a performer and teacher of the Japanese bamboo flute (shakuhachi) and is one of the first of a small group of non-Japanese to be recognized as professional players in Japan. He has trained for more than 30 years in the classical style of the Kinko School of Shakuhachi under the tutelage of Living National Treasure virtuoso Goro Yamaguchi and other prominent teachers in Japan. He is active as a performer, teacher, and recording artist in the US, Japan, and elsewhere in the world. In addition, he works closely with foundations and nonprofit organizations in developing programs of international cultural exchange. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Julliard School, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, the Asia Society, and a host of museums, universities, and colleges in North America and East Asia. For more information on his performance practice, visit

Yoko Hiraoka is a Certified Master of three traditional Japanese string instruments — the Chikuzen biwa, the koto, and the samisen – as well as being a Certified Master of the Omote school of tea ceremony. She has been teaching these art forms for the past 25 years and is a member of the Shikandaza ensemble and the Kyoto Hogaku group, as well as an Associate Member of the Somei Music School. She has toured widely in Japan and North America, with performances at Expo ’90, the Kyoto International Music Festival, the Tozan Shakuhachi Annual Concert, the Sasayama Cultural Festival, the Kyoto Municipal Concert of Traditional Music, and an array of universities and colleges. More information on her performance practice can be found at:

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