Not Held at Japan Society – Agatsuma

April 20, 2004
past event image

Tuesday, April 20 7:30 pm

Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street (between East 4th St. & Astor Pl.), NYC

The venerable shamisen is now a hot rock instrument for young audiences in Japan thanks to a whole new generation of players, especially Hiromitsu Agatsuma. Fusing the soul and softly plaintive twang of traditional Tsugaru-shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese traditional lute-like instrument) with an informed mastery of contemporary Western musical idioms, Agatsuma’s US debut release in 2003, Beams, was a landmark in the East-meets-West appeal of the art form that the New York Post called “unusually exotic, yet familiar at the same time.” Agatsuma’s latest work, Beyond, is comprised of wholly original material, and injects shamisen with elements of rock, funk, jazz, techno, urban and Latin grooves.

While modernizing the basics of the ancient genre for today’s audiences, Agatsuma has said, “I am careful …to not make the shamisen sound too much like the guitar but maintain its unique phrases and accents…I try not to leave the basics behind.” That commitment is immediately apparent with Beyond, which both honors tradition and pushes the artistic envelope of shamisen.

A child prodigy, Agatsuma began playing the shamisen at the age of six, and won the 1988 All-Japan Tsugaru-Shamisen Competition at age 14. For several more years, the young artist continued to develop his talents and for two consecutive years in 1995 and 1996 was awarded the prestigious top prize in the Tsuguru-Shamisen National Competition held in Hirosaki, Japan. In 2001, his critically acclaimed self-titled debut received the award for ‘Album of the Year’ at the Japan Gold Disc Awards, and he returns to NY for the second time, following a successful debut tour in 2003.  “Agatsuma’s playing is superb, never failing to give the shamisen’s twangy buzz tones an expertly emotional or festive edge” 

Tickets: $20; tickets can be purchased at The Public Theater box office, or via Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or For dinner reservations, please call (212) 539-8778, and for further show information please call (212) 539-8770

  • Tuesday, April 20, 2004
  • 7:30 pm