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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
    George Cotsirilos
    09 Feb
    Steve Dalachinsky
    13 Apr
    Nick Finzer
    20 Apr
    Ed Klitsch
    05 Jan
    Andy Stein
    30 Mar