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  • Shirley Muramoto (2002)

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    Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto, a native of Oakland, California, continues a long tradition of Japanese koto music in America. This tradition began when her mother was encouraged to learn the koto as a young girl in the American relocation camps of World War II.

    Given a koto with no strings, Muramoto's grandfather, Yasuki Hori, fashioned strings by tying reeds together. He made ji (tuning bridges) by carving wood scraps and toothbrush handles. Yasuki learned the shakuhachi (bamboo flute) to play songs with his two daughters and encouraged their practicing.

    From childhood, Muramoto was fortunate to receive training on various styles of koto music from such masters as Kazue Kudo, Tomoko Sunazaki, Yoko Gates and from her mother, Madame Kazuko Muramoto.

    In 1976, Muramoto received her Shihan degree (Instructor's license) with Yushusho (highest ranking honors) at the Chikushi School in Fukuoka, Japan.

    Her ability to perform on the koto from traditional to contemporary to jazz gives her the distinction of being one of the few koto musicians to be able to perform in a variety of styles.

    She has performed at various universities, concerts and events in the U.S., Canada and Japan, including performances with cinematic composer Maurice Jarre, the Sacramento Symphony, the Marin Symphony and with shakuhachi master John Kaizan Neptune.

    Muramoto has performed for dignitaries such as San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, former Secretary of State George Schultz, Vice President Al Gore and Mikhael Gorbachev.

    As director of the Murasaki Ensemble, Muramoto's objective is to express creative collaborations with other artists and with the Ensemble in expression of the "World Beat."
    Pick Artist Album Song Label
    # 1 Hozan Yamamoto Otoņo Otoņo (Autumn) (Kyoto Records or Nuba Records)
    # 2 Zakir Hussain Zakir Hussain and the Rhythm Experience Nines Over Easy (Moment)
    # 3 Murasaki Ensemble Magenta Nines Over Easy (Murasaki Productions)
    # 4 Ella Fitzgerald At the Opera House Stompin' at the Savoy (Verve)
    # 5 Jeff Massanari Hip Flip Late Nite (X Dot 25)
    # 6 Murasaki Ensemble Birds and Drums Birds and Drums (Murasaki Productions)
    Book Murasaki Shikibu, "Tales of Genji"
    Luxury Item XO cognac and sushi, especially "uni" sushi
    Alternate Picks/Not Broadcast
    Alt 1 Aaron Copland N/A Appalachian Spring N/A
    Alt 2 John Kaizan Neptune Tokyosphere Seventh Avenue (JVC)
    Alt 3 Niccolo Paganini David Oistrakh Violin Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major (D Major), Op. 6 (MS21) N/A
    Alt 4 Tadao Sawai N/A Tori No Yoh Ni (To Soar Like a Bird) N/A
    Alt 5 Richard Rodgers Carousel Carousel Waltz N/A
    Alt 6 Oakland All-City Junior High School Orchestra and Chorus 1967 N/A Battle Hymn of the Republic N/A
    Castaways by date
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    23 Jun
    Gerald Beckett
    01 Sep
    Buzz Brooks
    28 Apr
    Jarrett Cherner
    16 Jun
    Kev Choice
    30 Jun
    Anat Cohen
    28 Jul
    Natalie Cressman
    10 Feb
    Hershey Felder
    07 Apr
    Mitchell Feldman
    18 Aug
    Mike Galisatus
    03 Nov
    Aaron Germain
    06 Jan
    Robin Gregory
    17 Feb
    Tamir Hendelman
    13 Oct
    Kasey Knudsen
    17 Mar
    Matthew Montfort
    26 May
    Dan Montgomery
    06 Oct
    Andrea Motis
    21 Jul
    Ray Obiedo
    10 Mar
    Jayn Pettingill
    17 Nov
    John Pizzarelli
    25 Aug
    Sandi Poindexter
    24 Mar
    Don Randi
    20 Oct
    David Rogers
    24 Feb
    Eric Whittington
    29 Sep
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    04 Aug
    Lizz Wright
    09 Jun
    Jason Yeager
    02 Jun