June 28, 2018

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Kathleen Wong
Tel: 808-532-8748

Taylour Chang

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Local artists team up with Japanese musicians in tribute to Japanese immigration to islands

WHAT: 150th Gannenmono in Concert
WHEN: August 4-November 17, 2018
TICKETS: $25-35 for general admission, $20-30 for museum members
INFO: 532-6097,, (publishable)
High-res images available on request

HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I—This year marks the 150th anniversary of Gannenmono, or the first Japanese immigrants to arrive in Hawai'i. In tribute to such a special date, Doris Duke Theatre is honored to announce the 150th Gannenmono in Concert series, a troika of unique collaborations between local and Japanese artists that highlight distinct narratives within Japanese immigration history. Supported by the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program.

In August, Hawai'i's own taiko master Kenny Endo will team up with a world-renowned shamisen artist and folk dancer to push collaborative boundaries with traditional instruments. In September, Ukwanshin Kabudan will perform with leaders of Okinawan dance to celebrate the Okinawan Moon Festival. Lastly, choreographer Un Yamada will perform a contemporary dance to the music of ukulele virtuoso Taimane in November. These artist collaborations will not only honor each artists' roots, but also explore how Japanese arts and culture continue to evolve and influence sound around the world. The museum is excited to have premiere talent from the islands of Hawai'i and the islands of Japan to help showcase that ongoing legacy. 

See the full lineup below.

Pacific Crossing: Kenny Endo, Hiromitsu Agatsuma, and Chieko Kojima
August 4 at 7:30pm
August 5 at 2pm
$35 general admission, $30 museum member 
To kick off the concert series, three world-renowned artists—Kenny Endo (taiko and tsuzumi), Hiromitsu Agatsuma (Tsugaru shamisen) and Chieko Kojima (taiko and dance)—will come together to present traditional and contemporary work. Don’t miss the world premiere of new work created for this special occasion. Special guests include: Yosuke Oda (taiko) and Noel Okimoto (vibraphones and drums). On August 4 at 7:30pm, enjoy the world premiere of Pacific Crossing, the original work created by Kenny Endo, Hiromitsu Agatsuma, and Chieko Kojima. On August 5 at 2pm, join us for a special artist talk-back at 2pm prior to the live performance. 

Kenny Endo is at the vanguard of the taiko genre, continually paving new paths for this Japanese style of drumming. A performer, composer and teacher of taiko with numerous awards and accolades, Endo is a consummate artist, blending Japanese taiko with rhythms influenced from around the world into original melodies and improvisation. Endo began his taiko career with L.A.’s groundbreaking Kinnara Taiko before moving onto the renowned San Francisco Taiko Dojo, the first kumi daiko (ensemble drumming) group outside of Japan. In 1980, he embarked on a decade-long odyssey in Japan, studying and performing with the masters of classical drumming, traditional Tokyo festival music and ensemble drumming. Endo has the honor of being the first non-Japanese national to have received a natori (stage name and masters license) in hogaku hayashi (classical drumming). In the hogaku world, Endo is known as Mochizuki Tajiro. In the greater musical world, “Kenny Endo” has become synonymous with “taiko.”

Hiromitsu Agatsuma is a leader of the new generation of shamisen players. Agatsuma breaks new ground with his fresh approach to the shamisen, introducing the traditional instrument to new listeners everywhere. At the age of six, he began studying the Tsugaru shamisen. Throughout his childhood, he frequented and won shamisen competitions, receiving high recognition in the field of traditional Japanese music. His reputation grew as he ventured out into other genres of music, such as jazz and rock. In 2001, his major debut album Agatsuma was named the Traditional Japanese Music Album of the Year at the Japan Gold Disc Awards. With EN, his sixth album released in 2006, he won the Traditional Japanese Music Album of the Year at the Japan Gold Disc Awards for the second time. In 2014, he composed and performed for Ebizo Ichikawa’s Kabuki production—an unprecedented moment for a Kabuki stage to feature the Tsugaru shamisen instrument. He has been active not only as a performer but also as a producer, writing scores for TV and theater.

Chieko Kojima first encountered Japanese folk dancing when she moved to Sado to join Sado no Kuni Ondekoza in 1976. She went on to become one of Kodo’s founding members in 1981. In addition to her work with Kodo, she has an active solo career that is perhaps best characterized by her ongoing project, “Yukiai,” where she seeks out new encounters and collaborations with artists and taiko groups within Japan and throughout the world. Kojima is known for her vivid portrayal of the goddess Ameno-uzume in the first season of Amaterasu in 2006. She became a Kodo Distinguished Member in 2012, and was the director of the annual concert series Kodo Special Performances on Sado Island for four years, starting from its inaugural season that same year. She continues to ambitiously broaden her expressive outlets, as demonstrated by her recent productions based on the Tales of Dojoji, which then became the inspiration for her first photo book, Kasane no Kiyohime Monogatari: The Myriad Layers of Kiyohime­—a unique work created with photographer Maiko Miyagawa and released in 2015. Today, Chieko is perhaps the most dynamic female taiko drummer in the world, combining grace, beauty, power, and artistry.

Chichinagami Shinubu: In the Light of the Full Moon
Monday, September 24 at 7pm 
$25 general admission, $20 museum member 
In collaboration with Ukwanshin Kabudan, join us for a special performance featuring special guests from Ryūkyū. Kazue Higa—Master Instructor and granddaughter of Kiyoko Higa, founder of Ryuseikai Honryu Ryūkyū Dance School in Okinawa—and Atsuko Tamagusuku—Master Instructor and founder of the Udui Fukura Okinawan Dance School—will join the Ukwanshin Kabudan, a Ryukyu/Okinawa performing arts troupe based in Hawai`i, to present traditional and original performances in honor of Jūguya, the Mid Autumn Moon Festival (十五夜、中秋月祭).

Kazue Higa
Shihan, Master Instructor and grand daughter of Kiyoko Higa, founder of Ryuseikai Honryu Ryūkyū Dance School in Okinawa, Kazue Higa is an accomplished artist of kumi udui, Okinawan classical music and dance plays, as well as Okinawan shibai, or folk plays. Her signature dance is wūbichi, a classical dance passed through her grandmother. Higa has travelled extensively throughout Japan, Europe, US and Hawaiʻi. She is recognized by the Okinawan and Japanese governments as a traditional Ryūkyū dance artist for helping to preserve the traditional dance art of Okinawa.

Atsuko Tamagusuku
Kaishu, Master Instructor and founder of the Udui Fukura Okinawan Dance School, Atsuko is an accomplished artist in the Files of Kumi Udui and Okinawa shibai. She is well-recognized by the Okinawa and Japanese government for her commitment to the preservation of the Ryūkyū traditional performing arts. She has also travelled throughout the US, Europe, Japan and Hawaiʻi.  

Supporting Artists, Ukwanshin Kabudan
Norman Kaneshiro, Shihan, Master Instructor, Nomura Ryu Koten Ongaku Kyoukai
Keith Nakaganeku, Shihan, Master Instructor, Nomura Ryu Koten Ongaku Kyoukai
Terry Higa, Shihan, Master Instructor, Hawaiʻi Taiko Kai
Eric Wada, Shihan, Master Instructor Tamagusuku Ryu Shosetsu Kai Hawaiʻi
Brent Arakaki, Tamagusuku Ryu Shosetsu Kai Hawaiʻi

Ukwanshin Kabudan
The Ukwanshin Kabudan is a Ryukyu/Okinawa performing arts troupe based in Hawai`i. The purpose is to maintain the traditional music, dance and cultural art forms while fostering goodwill and understanding through sharing. We participate in educational programs to promote cultural awareness, and also provide public workshops and events. In addition, we host Cultural Study Tours and Identity Conferences to create a deeper understanding and connection to Okinawan roots.

Gannenmono: Un Yamada and Taimane
Friday, November 17 at 7:30pm 
$25 general admission, $20 museum member
World-renowned choreographer and dancer Un Yamada is slated to perform an original choreographed dance piece in collaboration with ukulele virtuoso Taimane in honor of the 150th Anniversary of Japanese Immigration to Hawai`i. 

Un Yamada is the director of the Yamada Un Dance Company. After training in gymnastics, ballet, traditional folk dance and Butoh, Un Yamada started her career as a choreographer in 1996 and has been active as a solo dancer since 1998. After she won The French Embassy Prize for Young Choreographer at the Yokohama Dance Collection Solo x Duo Competition in 2000, she moved to France. She then established her dance company Co. Un Yamada in Tokyo in 2002. Performing in Japan, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, her artistic collaborations span the fields of music, drama, opera, academia, and traditional local performing arts. She received the 8th Japan Dance Forum Award in 2013. In 2014, she was designated as the Japan Cultural Envoy for East Asia, and also received the New Face Award of Minister of Education Awards for Fine Arts. As the Japan Cultural Envoy in 2017 (Mar–Sep), she toured the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. 

Taimane translates to "diamond" from Samoan and perfectly reflects the different facets of her nature. Whether delicately finger-picking through Bach or radically shredding through Led Zeppelin, Taimane has the ability to morph genres—from classical to rock to flamenco—and stretch her instrument far beyond the familiar melodies of her native Hawai`i. When Don Ho caught wind of the talented teen, he invited her to join him as part of his venerable variety show at the Waikiki Beachcomber, further fueling Taimane’s desire to perform for and connect with audiences. In addition to performing her own distinctive versions of well-known pieces, Taimane weaves in original compositions that are as far-ranging as her musical tastes. With the fierceness of a rocker and the grace of a dancer, Taimane and her music are wowing ever-larger audiences. 


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About the Honolulu Museum of Art

One of the world’s premier art museums, the Honolulu Museum of Art presents international caliber special exhibitions and features a collection that includes Hokusai, van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso and Warhol, as well as traditional Asian and Hawaiian art.

Located in two of Honolulu’s most beautiful buildings, visitors enjoy two cafés, gardens, a shop, and films and concerts at the theater. The museum is dedicated to bringing together great art and people to create a more harmonious, adaptable, and enjoyable society in Hawai’i.


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