Formed in 2001, TsuguKaji-KOTO perform 13, 17 and 25-string kotos to freely express their sense of musicality, bridging the traditional and the contemporary, drawing out the colourful tones of the koto with their virtuosity. Their original compositions, which layer the sound of koto with voices, are highly acclaimed in Japan and abroad. Their CD “Katari, Uta, Koto” was released in 2008.
Their recent performances abroad include in New York where they showcased at APAP, Nashville, Atlanta in 2010 . In 2011, they had hugely successful Canada tour organised by Japan Foundation, with shakuhachi player Akihito Obama, and taiko drummer Makoto Yamamoto, both young traditional Japanese instrument start performers acclaimed internationally. Flowing melodies by koto, adding dynamic shakuhachi sound and vibrant taiko rhythm created a dynamic and unique ensemble.
In July 2012, They performed in prestigious Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome and Terni. In Autumn 2012, they have formed a new unit “Strings and Serpents” with jazz pianist Andy Milne and Benoit Delbecq in collaboration with visual artists Saki Murotani.
Ai Kajigano (Koto, Sangen, Vocal)
Ai KAJIGANO first learned Koto under her mother, Ryorei Kajigano, then studied with Tadao Sawai and Kazue Sawai. After graduating from the NHK Academy for Japanese Traditional Music in 1997, she was selected for the Agency for Cultural Affairs Internship Program in 2000. She has performed internationally in 18 countries in Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America. In addition to various TV and radio appearances, KAJIGANO participated in the sound track recording of the annual NHK national broadcast historical drama. She has held three solo recitals, the first of which took place in her home prefecture of Kagoshima (2000); the second, also in Kagoshima, was in honour of her winning both the Kagoshima New Talent Competition and the Kagoshima Bank Foundation Award (2002); and the third in Tokyo (2005). She is a registered artist under the Vitalization Program for Public Auditoriums and a lecturer at the Sawai Koto Academy and the Kagoshima International University.
Tsugumi Yamamoto (Koto, Vocal)
Tsugumi YAMAMOTO began studying Koto under Shoko Moriya, Katsuhiko Yoshizaki, and Keiko Nozaka. She graduated from the NHK Academy for Japanese Traditional Music in 1993 and was selected as the Progressive Artist Research Student by the Agency of Cultural Affairs in 2002. She won the Copper Award at the National Koto Competition in 1996, and passed the NHK Japanese Traditional Music audition in 1997 and 1998. Her first recital took place in her home city of Kobe in 1999. Since then YAMAMOTO built her career as a recitalist presenting a live concert series “Tsugumi” collaborating with a wide range of artists even beyond the genres of traditional music. Following the success of her recital on the 25-stringed Koto in Tokyo in 2003, she has performed in concerts for 25-stringed and 17-stringed Koto (part of the Tokyo Summer Music Festival), two 25-string Kotos, and formed her Koto duo TsuguKaji-KOTO and an ensemble Ho with whom she has premiered several new compositions. She is a member of Hogakusha and Shingensha of Ikuta Koto School and a player in the Ikuta Koto School Shingensha Ensemble.