Yoko Hiraoka (Koto), David Kansuke Wheeler (Shakuhachi),and John Lytton (Shamisen).
Yoko Hiraoka is a master performer of the koto (13-string zither), shamisen (3-string lute), biwa (4- or 5- string fretted lute), and voice. An authoritative exponent and teacher of the traditional music of Japan, she is also an active interpreter of the contemporary repertoire for her instruments. She is a native of Kyoto, Japan and studied classical koto and shamisen music from an early age.
For more than thirty years, Ms. Hiraoka has performed and lectured extensively at universities, festivals, and on television/radio and studio recordings. Her appearances have included concerts and lectures at Columbia University, Princeton, Yale, UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Bowdoin College, Colby College and many other universities and major music festivals.http://www.japanesestrings.com
David Kansuke Wheeler is a musician and musicologist. David visited Japan in 1977 as an exchange student and entered the tutelage of shakuhachi master Junsuke Kawase III. In 1981, he returned to Japan on a Japanese Education Ministry scholarship to do graduate study at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, where he received his M. A. in musicology in 1985.
David has spent many decades immersed in the world of classical shakuhachi (bamboo flute), both during his long residence in Japan and now in the US. He now works to present this fascinating instrument and its musical charms to international audiences.
Since 1982, David has been performing, teaching, lecturing, and writing about the shakuhachi and Japanese music both in Japan and around the world and has made numerous performance appearances on Japanese television and radio.
While he specializes in the classical traditions of Sankyoku ensemble and Kinko-ryu Honkyoku, his performance activities cover the full range of music today; everything from Japanese to Western, from classical to the avant garde.
David was a visiting Japanese music lecturer and shakuhachi instructor at the College of Music at the University of Colorado, where he co-organized and prepared the World Shakuhachi Festival 1998 (July 5-11) at CU Boulder, and also lectures and instructs students at Naropa University.
In addition to performing and teaching, he also organizes and produces major events including World Shakuhachi Festivals and Shakuhachi Study Camps. His performances with koto player Yoko Hiraoka are well known. He has made great contributions to the Kansas City Japan Festival in the past, and we hope he will continue with us. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, and teaches, lectures and performs around the US, in Japan and elsewhere.
In 2014, John Lytton returned to Kansas after living in Tokyo, Japan for 36 years. He acquired extensive experience in the field of Kabuki music, and related genres of drama and stage music. His musical experience ranges from the three-stringed shamisen to the drums of the hayashi ensemble. He feels that this notable festival is a powerful addition to the greater Kansas City cultural landscape.