Tosha, Music Director of the Shumei Taiko Ensemble and the Ensembles
Resident Composer, was born in Ningyo-cho, Tokyo, in 1941. A Grand
Master of the Japanese wooden flute known as the "yokobue,"
he has earned international renown for his work while playing
for audiences in the Orient and throughout Europe and North America.
Among his most memorable concert appearances were the first World
Flute Festival, in Minneapolis, and the second World Flute Festival,
in New York. He was the first artist of traditional Japanese music
to play at the Suntory Gala Concert, Japan, a festival usually
devoted solely to western music. Although traditional music is
his forte, he is adventurous enough as a musician to have played
with American sax and piano jazz artists in New York City, Washington,
D.C., and Los Angeles. In Rome, he dedicated a concert to Pope
John Paul II. And he played at the Weil Recital Hall at Carnegie
Hall in New York with his son, Hideaki Nakagawa.
in Florence, Italy, he was so moved by Leonardo da Vincis
life and work that he composed musical impressions of the Renaissance
artist, scientist, and inventor that were later released on a
CD entitled "Da Vincis Flute"
(distributed by the Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd.).
Since becoming the Shumei Taiko Ensembles Music Director
in 1988, Tosha has written most of the Ensembles music.
It was under his generous guidance that the Ensembles unique
musical direction was set. A distinctive performance style evolved
and the Ensembles signature balance of drums and flutes
was perfected. Much of the music that Tosha composes takes its
spirit from nature, from the voices and sounds of the mountains,
waters, and skies. What he aims to create is a distillate of natures
essence. This demands that the musicians in the Ensemble express
equally both the breadth and the delicacy of nature. Similar to
the Ensembles juxtaposition of flute and drum, nature is
both forceful and subtle. And it is the balance of this duality
that the musicians must express.
Tosha, the Ensembles approach to taiko as "a service
to God," means not that the music mimic or slavishly imitate,
but rather that it take its place in a world that is still being
created; it must itself be creative and fresh. His goal is to
break through the walls built between art and life. It is this
idea that he attempts to instill in the taiko musicians that make
music with him.