Aki & Kuniko
Formed in 2002, AKI & KUNIKO (Hiroaki Sasaki on acoustic guitar and Kuniko Obina on 13-string koto) skilfully blends the notes from their two unmatched string instruments, seamlessly going from forceful to delicate. AKI & KUNIKO have taken the audiences around the globe, from South East Asia , Central America to Europe, into an extraordinary musical world. Highly acclaimed by music critics, they have described to “create a surprising and innovative musical partnership” and to have “original, genre defying work”.
In 2003, with the release of their first album HA! on the German label Acoustic Music Records, they toured to across Germany and to the Caribbean and Central America .In 2006, they toured to New York and Chicago, and released their second album OVER THE TOP and performed at the main stage of Open Strings, the world’s largest acoustic music festival in Germany. They were enthusiastically received during their South East Asian tour in July 2011 and 2012 where their all concerts received standing ovations. In July 2013, they made a hugely successful recital at Auditorium Parco della Musica, Roma as part of 2nd edition of Japan Music Fest. In October – November 2014 they toured in Switzerland and performed in major venues including legendary Bird’s Eye Jazz Club(Basel),Teatro Sociale (Bellinzona)and ADEM (Geneve), excited Swiss audiences across music genre.. In December AKi&KUNIKO toured extensively in Nepal, India and Bangladesh.
PROFILE of AKI&KUNIKO
KUNIKO OBINA (koto)
Kuniko is one of the most sought after koto players of our time. She holds the title of Grand Master of Miyagi Kai named after Michiyo Miyagi (1884-1956), the most respected koto performer and composer of modern koto music. Taught by her mother, Kuniko started playing koto when she was three. Then, from the age of ten, Kuniko also learnt Jiuta Sangen (singing with three-string). Kuniko has studied with many renowned teachers, including the late Kiyoko Miyagi, who was a Living National Treasure of Japan, and she has completed a masters degree in Japanese traditional music at Tokyo University of the Arts. Kuniko appears regularly on television and writes for a monthly Japanese traditional music magazine Hogaku Journal. She frequently performs abroad in venues ranging from intimate clubs to large concert halls and she is in demand for official engagements. Kuniko is a member of the Miyagi Ensemble and from April 2014 she has been teaching at Tokyo University of the Arts.
Hiroaki Sasaki (acoustic guitar)
Aki’s music career started when he was a boy opera singer in the famous Japanese opera Yuzuru composed by Dan Ikuma. Following thIs, Aki went on to study film at Nihon University College of the Arts. In 1998, his rare talent was discovered by Peter Finger, the legendary German acoustic guitarist, who invited Aki to perform and record in Europe.
Watch Aki performing with Peter Finger in 2001: http://youtube/GouFS9VmRgo
Aki is particularly known for his creation of new works and his collaboration with different genres of musicians in Japan and abroad. In 2009, his original piece “How I feel Now” was ranked No1 in the US music portal MP3.com Jazz section. As well as his busy concert schedule with Kuniko, he performs in the duo “YUGEN” with Hideki Ishima, a Sitarla, sitar, and guitar player, and ex-member of the Flower Travellin’ Band.
Images from Aki & Kuniko’s latest tour: