See also Four Questions: Four Noh Musicians.
Noh Perfomer Profiles
Yukihiro Isso (2016 and 2018 Festival)
Yukihiro is the eldest son of the late Yukimasa Isso, a prominent nohkan performer of the post-war era. Yukihiro debuted at the age of nine and has since performed in most of the plays in the classical repertory. Yukihiro also plays a variety Japanese and Western flutes, and has a deserved reputation for improvisation having performed with the likes of Cecil Taylor, Peter Brötzmann, John Zorn, as well as numerous Japanese musicians from non-noh genres. In addition, he has composed new pieces for the noh hayashi ensemble, several of which will be performed in the Kings’ Place performances. Yukihiro has been designated an Important Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese government.
Jiichi Asami (2018 Festival)
Noh (shite) main role actor
Jiichi is a renowned Noh actor of the Kanze School. He studied under his father, Masataka Asami, and the late Tetsunojo Kanze VIII. He made his Noh theatre debut at the age of three performing Shimai (Noh dance) and “Oimatsu” (The Old Pine Tree). He is active in overseas performances, new and revived Noh works, and collaborations with other arts forms including films. Asami assists with Yoyogi Kachokai, a Noh performance group, which is directed by his father, and periodically holds performances at the Yoyogi Noh theatre, the only outdoor Noh theatre in Tokyo. Asami has been designated an “Important Intangible Cultural Asset” by the Japanese government
Mitsuhiro Kakihara (2016 and 2018 Festival)
(O-tsuzumi) hip drum
Born in 1972, Mitsuhiro studied the otsuzumi from his father, Takashi Kakihara, a prominent post-war noh performer of the Takayasu school of drumming. Mitsuhiro first performed on stage at the age of seven. Today, he performs regularly in the Tokyo area and is passionate about training the younger generation of noh performers. Mitsuhiro is a graduate of Tokyo University of Arts and has been designated an Important Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese government.
Yoshimasa Kanze (2016 Festival)
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/
Yoshitani Kiyoshi (2016 and 2018 Festival)
(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.
Tatsushi Narita (2016 Festival)
(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.
Kyosuke Tanabe (2018 Festival)
(Ko-tsuzumi) shoulder drum (Okura School)
Born in Nigata city in 1980, Kyosuke is an highly talented emerging Kotsuzumi player ( shoulder drum ). He was trained in the National Noh Theatre and has been studying under Genjiro Okura, the Grand Master of the Okura School of Kotsuzumi who is a living national treasure. Tanabe has played in many of the major Noh theatre performances including Ran, Okina, Dojoji, and Lion.
Masaki Umano (2016 and 2018 Festival)
Noh (shite) main role actor
Born in 1965 in Kyoto, Masaki Umano is a prominent actor of the Tessenkai group of the Kanze school. Umano first performed on stage at the age of three and performed his first noh at the age of seven. He has performed the lead shite role in numerous plays including Midare, Shakkyo, Dojoji and Mochizuki. A graduate of Tokyo University of Arts, he has performed with the Tessenkai in Germany, Ireland, United States, France, Poland and Greece. Umano has been designated an Important Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese government.