08_ANoted by The New York Times as a “virtuosic, deeply expressive shakuhachi player and composer,” Kojiro Umezaki (梅崎康二郎) performs regularly with the Grammy Award winning Silk Road Ensemble with whom he appears on multiple recordings including Sing Me Home, A Playlist Without Borders, Off the Map, and the Grammy-nominated 2015 documentary film, The Music of Strangers, directed by Morgan Neville. (Cycles), an album of original work, was released recently by In a Circle Records. Other recordings as performance, composer, and/or producer include Brooklyn Rider’s Dominant Curve, Yo-Yo Ma’s Appassionato, Beat in Fractions’ Beat InfractionThe Silk Road: A Musical Caravan (Smithsonian Folkways), and Huun Huur Tu’s Ancestors Call.

Born to a Japanese father and Danish mother, Umezaki grew up in Tokyo and is a performer of the shakuhachi, a composer, and a technologist with interests in integrating global musical practices with electronics. He is member of the senate faculty at the University of California, Irvine where he works with doctoral students in the Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology program.

Recent and forthcoming highlights:

  • In February, the Silk Road Ensemble received the Grammy award in the Best World Music Album category for Sing Me Home. KU is credited as associate producer, co-composer, and performer.
  • The documentary film by Morgan Neville and Tremolo Productions, The Music of Strangers, also received a Grammy nomination in the Best Music Film category. See KU in the trailer here.
  • On Saturday, September 17, the new documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, The Vietnam War, premieres on PBS. The Silk Road Ensemble provided much of the music, with one track arranged by KU.
  • The Silk Road Ensemble TED Conference video of “St. James Infirmary Blues” arranged by Michael Ward-Bergman and featuring Rhiannon Giddens went live in November. 800K+ views and counting! KU plays the Monty Levenson shakulute/furuhachi.
  • The premiere of Layla and Majun–a collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Silk Road Ensemble featuring Alim and Fargana Qasimov–was at Cal Performances in Berkeley in September. KU will be part of upcoming performances at Lincoln Center (October) and The Kennedy Center (March).
  • A Silk Road Ensemble US tour is in the works for April 2018. Locations, dates, times tba!
  • For all upcoming events/performances, click here. Hoping to see you soon!