So it's been a long time since writing a report. Life has been an endless series of intense transitions and challenges. I feel blessed to have all the opportunities to grow as an artist and as a human being.
Over the past few months, I was able to share the stage with such esteemed colleagues as Mazz Swift, Dana Lyn, Keith Witty, Kiku Enomoto, Brent Arnold, Claire Chase, Susie Ibarra, Wu Tong, Hadi Eldebek, Parker Quartet, Mark deClive Lowe, Keita Ogawa, Rogerio Boccato, Miki Orihara, Shane Shanahan, Shaw Pong Liu, Michi Wiancko, Shakespeare & Company, Silkroad Ensemble, Kazu Kumagai, Maria Grand and others.
Then in mid-July, I went to Spain, to the town of Dos Hermanas, just outside of Seville, to work with the acclaimed flamenco dancer Eva Yerbabuena in creating a new program. Besides Eva and her company of first-rate singers, percussionists and a guitarist (her husband Paco), the program featured a wonderful singer from Amami Oshima, Sato Anna. We spent a week and half of meeting every day sharing melodies, rhythms and movements with each other in order to develop a new show. I was in absolute heaven, being able to listen to, see and make music with these master artisans. Of course, it wasn't all fun and games- we were there to WORK. There were discrepancies in opinions and aesthetic choices, compounded by language barriers and cultural differences, but a healthy level of mutual respect and trust allowed the work to progress in often magical ways. We debuted in Barcelona at the Mercat de las Flores to huge acclaim, with standing ovations each of the two nights and rave reviews.
Back in NY, I'll be busy developing upcoming projects, composing and practicing with a few performances and workshops here and there, as well as revisiting the collaboration with Eva.
Lastly, I’m excited to host an old friend Kris Bergstrom for a workshop at my studio. Kris is one of the head instructors at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute and is known for the way he incorporates creative movements with rhythm and the well-crafted methodologies for teaching them. He is a very creative individual whose passion for drumming, shamisen playing, reducing his carbon footprint, coding, furniture design, etc. dictates how he navigates through life.
- Kaoru Watanabe