the November Steps (1967), a concerto for shakuhachi and biwa, performed with such incredible intensity by Kifu Mitsuhashi and Kumiko Shuto. Their technical, intellectual and emotional commitment to the work – including an enormous cadenza that sees the two instruments voyage through spectacular timbral terrain – was by some margin the highlight of the day. (by Igor Toronyi-Lalic 4th Feb 2013 for the Arts desk.com)
Born in Tokyo, Kumiko studied biwa under Mr.Yukio Tanaka and classical music at Tokyo College of Music. In 1998 she graduated from the 43th NHK Japan musical technician academy with first prize, in 2001 she joined the Japanese instrument orchestra Pro Musica Nipponia.
In 2002 Placed 1st in the Japan Biwa Music Contest, won Ministry of Education Prize and NHK Prize. Since then she has been performing as one of the most acclaimed Satsuma Biwa players in Japan and abroad. She frequently performs “November Steps”, a masterpiece composed by Toru Takemitsu for biwa, shakuhachi and orchestra with top artists including Kifu Mitsuhashi (shakuhachi).
Her major performances in Japan and abroad include:
2004 Performed “From the land of the rising sun” in Cyprus.
Performed with the Japanese Music Ensemble “Subaru” in Singapore.
2008 “Prague Shakuhachi Summer School 2008” in Czech Republic.
2011 Belgians and Holland tour with Court Music Orchestra from National Gugak Centre in Soul as part of 1st edition of Asia Music Festival.
February 2013, Toru Takemitsu “November Steps” with BBC Symphony Orchestra (UK) as part of Total Immersion: Sounds from Japan conducted by Kazushi Ono.
January 2014 Toru Takemitsu “November Steps” with Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya (Catalonia) conducted by Kazushi Ono.
‘Impromptu’ for flute and biwa フルートと琵琶によるImpromptu
Devised by Shuto and Le Lohé 首藤・レロイ 共同作曲
Biwa: Kumiko Shuto 琵琶：首藤久美子
Flute: Francesca Le Lohé フルート：フランチェスカ・レロイ
Karura Hall, Tokyo, November 2016