The Kennedy Center

Masayo Ishigure


Masayo Ishigure began playing the koto and jiuta shamisen at the age of five in Gifu, Japan and has created an extensive multi-faceted career that continues to stretch the limits of the koto, while maintaining a strong grasp of the tradition. After initial studies with Tadao and Kazue Sawai, Ms. Ishigure became a special research student in 1986 at the Sawai Koto Academy of Music. The aim of the academy was to shed new light on koto music by incorporating everything from Bach to jazz, thus changing the koto from being perceived as a strictly traditional Japanese instrument into an instrument of universal expressiveness. In 2005, Ms. Ishigure was a recording artist in the Grammy®–winning soundtrack from the movie Memoirs of a Geisha by John Williams, alongside Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma. In 2001, she released her own solo CD entitled Grace.  Ms. Ishigure moved to New York City in 1992 and has since performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall-Weill Recital Hall, BAM, Merkin Hall, the Japan Society, and Symphony Space. She has been a guest artist with the San Diego Symphony, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Ishigure teaches at Columbia University and offers private lessons as the only Sawai Koto Academy Instructor in the New York City and Washington, D.C. area.

Watch Past Performances

Video 4/6/2015: Asako Tamura: Kokoro: Japanese Melodies from the Heart

The Japanese soprano, fresh off her London debut in Madama Butterfly at Royal Albert Hall, presents a recital of Japanese songs. Presented with the support of the Embassy of Japan and the National Cherry Blossom Festival.