Noh (shite) main dancer-actor
Yoshimasa Kanze is widely known as one of the most prominent Noh performers of the Kanze school (one of the five schools of the shitekata or main role of noh) today. Yoshimasa was born in Tokyo in 1970 and is the eldest son of legendary Yoshiyuki Kanze, the third-generation master of the Yarai Kanze school of Noh that split from the school of Tetsunojo Kanze in the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Yoshimasa performed for the first time on the stage at the age of two years and seven months, when he danced an Oimatsu. His first Noh performance was in 1975 and since then he has performed the important Noh roles of Sagi, Ran, Ishibashi, Okina, Dojoji, Antaku and Sotoba Komachi. He is a member of the Kamiasobi group and leads the No-u, No-u, Noh, Ichi kara Hajimeru O-Keiko programmes and the Yoshimasa no Kai. He has been designated an “Important Intangible Cultural Asset” by the Japanese government.
Official Website : http://kamiasobi.com/
Yukihiro Isso was born into a family of nohkan flute virtuosi. Nohkan is the traditional transverse flute which is used to accompany Japanese Noh drama. Yukihiro is the eldest son of the late Yukimasa Isso, a national treasure and a legendary nohkan performer. The origin of the Isso school dates back to the Azuchi Momoyma era (1573 – 1603) and from this time the school has continued unbroken to today. Yukihiro debuted at the age of 9 as a professional nohkan performer in Kurama Tengu and from this early age carried on performing major classical Noh repertoires such as Okina and Dojoji.
Apart from being an acclaimed performer of classical Noh repertoires, Yukihiro is keen on the diversity of the flute family. He also plays the shinobue and dengaku (traverse bamboo flutes used for traditional festivals across Japan) and a variety of western flutes including the recorder.
Yukihiro was a lecturer at the National Noh theatre and has been designated an “Important Intangible Cultural Asset” by the Japanese government.
(O-tsuzumi) hip drum
Born in 1972, Mitsuhiro learned O-tsuzumi (large hand drum) from his father Takashi Kakihara, a legendary O-tsuzumi performer. Mitsuhiro gave his first performance at the age of 7 and at 11 he became a professional Noh musician. Today, he is one of the most sought after O-tsuzumi musicians and is passionate about training the younger generation. Takashi is a graduate of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and has been designated an “Important Intangible Cultural Asset” by the Japanese government.
(Ko-tsuzumi) shoulder drum
Tatsushi Narita was born in 1964 in Kobe. He learnt Ko-tsuzumi (small hand drum) under Hiroaki Sowa (a living national treasure). Narita’s career as a professional Ko-tzusumi performer started at the age of 13. He is mainly based in Osaka and has performed all the important Noh pieces. Since the 1980’s Narita has been passionate about promoting Ko-Tsuzumi to new audiences and to achieve this he has adopted an innovative approach to performing Noh music. As one of the leading Ko-tsuzumi exponents, Narita has actively performed overseas. Notably at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the Athens Festival in Greece, and at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. He has been designated an “Important Intangible Cultural Asset” by the Japanese government.
(Taiko) stick drum
Yoshitani Kiyoshi started performing Taiko at the age of 11 when he became apprenticed to the legendary Uemon Komparu the 22nd. Since 1995, Yoshitami has performed throughout Japan and he is acknowledged as one of the finest Taiko performers of the Noh repertoire. Based in Fukuoka, South Japan, he has reached out to Okinawa to teach Noh to local musicians. His collaboration with Okinawan musicians includes famous folk singer Misako Oshiro. He has been designated an “Important Intangible Cultural Asset” by the Japanese government.