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REIGAKUSHA was established in 1985 as a group dedicated to the study and performance of the classical gagaku repertoire and the creation of new music for these ancient instruments. With 22 permanent members and distinguished guest artists, Reigakusha has earned a high reputation for its performances of the traditional gagaku repertoire, its revival of classic works, its reproductions of ancient instruments, and its commissioning of new works by leading Japanese composers. Reigakusha's repertoire consists of more than 60 ancient gagaku works, 30 new works in the classic tradition, 20 revived works, and nearly ten new works by such distinguished composers as Toru Takemitsu, Toshi Ichiyanagi, and Maki Ishii. Notable among their commissioned works is Takemitsu's In an Autumn Garden, of which they gave the U.K. premiere in 1998 and the first performance of the complete version in Osaka in September 2000.
Reigakusha has performed at the National Theater of Japan, Hamarikyu Asahi Hall in Tokyo, Izumi Hall in Osaka, and at numerous other festivals and venues throughout Japan. In the U.S., Reigakusha has performed in Seattle and at Tangle-wood and Lincoln Center. The ensemble has also performed in major European cities including Glasgow, Birmingham, Cambridge, London, Brussels, Cologne, Berlin, Oslo, and Innsbruck.
SUKEYASU SHIBA (Musical Director, ryûteki player) leads Reigakusha. He is a specialist in music for the ryûteki flute and biwa, a former member of the music department of the Imperial Household Agency, and a professor of music at Tokyo University of the Arts. In addition to performing classical gagaku, Shiba has devoted his energies to the revival of ancient Japanese musical forms. He frequently performs contemporary music for traditional Japanese instruments and is also active as a composer.
Since retiring from his position at the Imperial Household Agency, Shiba has performed widely on various types of transverse flutes at numerous major international music festivals, including the Festival d'Autumne in Paris, the Lincoln Center Festival in New York, the Tanglewood Festival, the Vienna Modern, and the Ultima Festival in Oslo. At present he is Professor of Music at Tokyo University of the Arts, a guest professor at the Kunitachi Music University, Musical Director of Reigakusha, and a leading member of the Tokyo International Music Ensemble.
Highly regarded in Japan, Shiba has been designated a Leading Artist of Traditional Japanese Music by the Ministry of Education. He is a member of the Japan Art Academy, and the recipient of the Hida-Furukawa Music Award (1993), the Idemitsu Music Award (1997), the Purple Ribbon Medal (1999), and the Pola Award for Traditional Culture (1999).
For Reigakusha: Kenso Okajima, Stage Manager; Sachiko Shiba, Wardrobe; Yasuhiro Kakigahara, Company Manager; Mizue Omori, Assistant