Miya Masaoka:
A Line Becomes A Circle

Miya Masaoka

Miya Masaoka

photo credit: Lori Eanes

Miya Masaoka

Performance: Saturday, November 14, 8:00 p.m., Mildred Sainer Pavilion
($15, free with subscription)
Pre-concert talk: 7:30 p.m.

Artist Conversation: Thursday, November 12, 5:00 p.m., Mildred Sainer Pavilion (free)

Sound Installation: A Long Way to F# in the Jane Bancroft Cook Library, November 12–20 (free and open to the public)

Miya Masaoka—musician, composer, performance artist—has created works for koto, laser interfaces, laptop, and video and written scores for ensembles, chamber orchestras, and mixed choirs. In her performance pieces she has investigated the sound and movement of insects, as well as the physiological responses of plants, the human brain, and her own body. Within these varied contexts of sound, music, and nature, her performance work emphasizes the interactive, live nature of improvisation and reflects an individual, contemporary expression of Japanese gagaku aural gesturalism.

Masaoka's work has been presented in Japan, Canada, and Europe, and she has toured to India six times. Since forming and directing the San Francisco Gagaku Society, Masaoka has been creating new ways of thinking about and performing on the Japanese koto. She has developed a virtuosic and innovative approach, including improvisation and expanding the instrument into a virtual space using computer, lasers, live sampling, and real time processing.

New! Video of Miya Masaoka's entire concert at
New Music New College!

Masaoka has been developing koto interfaces with midi controllers since the 1980's originally with Tom Zimmerman, co-inventor of the Body Glove. Since then, she has she has worked at STEIM, Amsterdam, CNMAT, and with Donald Swearingen to build interfaces with the computer and koto, at times using pedals, light sensors, motion sensors, and ultrasound. With the koto connected directly to her laptop, she records her playing live and processes the samples in real time. This new koto is able to respond dynamically and interactively in a variety of musical environments, and improvise with the processed sounds.

Using the Japanese Koto, resonant objects, video projections, electronics, and a wearable “Percussion Dress,” Masaoka will present a solo program of pieces including an excerpt of a new work A Line Becomes A Circle. And while at NMNC she will produce an installation using environmental sound in a space on campus (location to be decided).

Her works have been commissioned and premiered by Bang on a Can, So Perucssion, Either/Or, Kathleen Supove, Joan Jeanrenaud, SF Sound, Volti, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Alonzo King’s Ballet, The Del Sol String Quartet and others. Her orchestral work Other Mountain was selected for a reading by JCOI Earshot for the La Jolla Symphony 2013.

She founded and directed the San Francisco Gagaku Society (1989-1996) under the tutelage of Master Suenobu Togi, a former Japanese Imperial Court musician who traced his gagaku lineage more than 1000 years to the Tang Dynasty.

Her love of nature and resonant outdoor space led her to record the migrating birds in the deep and naturally resonant canyons near the San Diego Airport, resulting in the work For Birds, Planes and Cello, written for Joan Jeanrenaud, formerly of Kronos Quartet. While I Was Walking, I Heard a Sound is scored for 120 singers, spatialized in balconies of the concert hall. During one movement, three choirs and nine opera singers are making bird calls and environmental sounds.

As a kotoist, she remains active in improvisation and has performed and recorded with Pharoah Sanders, Pauline Oliveros, Gerry Hemingway, Jon Rose, Fred Frith, Larry Ochs and Maybe Monday, Steve Coleman, Anthony Braxton, Didier Petit, Reggie Workman, Dr. L. Subramaniam, Andrew Cyrille, George Lewis, Jin Hi Kim, Susie Ibarra, Vijay Iyer, Myra Melford, Zeena Parkins, Toshiko Akiyoshi, William Parker, Robert Dick, Lukas Ligeti, Earl Howard, Henry Brant, and many others.

“Masterful and conceptually restless koto player Miya Masaoka has made it her business to usher the Japanese instrument into contemporary contexts, combining respect for tradition with new musical applications.”—Los Angeles Times

Video of Miya Masaoka performing at the Berkeley Art Museum

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Tickets are FREE for New College students, faculty, and staff—just bring your NCF ID to the concerts or click here for tickets and select "Faculty/Staff/Students" after you select the individual concert(s). For everyone else, single event tickets are $15, and season tickets to all five concerts are a bargain at $60. Click here to purchase tickets on line. Admission to all of our Artist Conversations, as well as the Student Composers Concert and the Electronic Music Concert, is free for everyone. Tickets for non-New College students in the community are $5 at the door with student ID. Visit our Reservations page for details.

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All NMNC venues are ramp accessible.

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Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

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Our visiting artists are paid for in part by Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax revenues.

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