Akihito Obama makes his ROCO debut this season to perform Shakuhachi (traditional Japanese flutes) “side by side” with James Nyoraku Schlefer.
Born in Kagawa Prefecture in 1975, shakuhachi virtuoso, AkihitoObama lives in Tokyo. He performs both traditional and contemporary music, composes and records, working in many styles and genres – collaborating with singers, electronic music artists, and both Japanese and Western instrumentalists. Obama studied various styles of shakuhachi under leading musicians such as Toshimitsu Ishikawa (traditional shakuhachi) and Satoshi Yoneya (minyo [folk music] shakuhachi). After graduating from the NHK Hogaku [traditional Japanese music] Gino-sha Ikusei-kai, the premier one year course for hogaku musicians aspiring to be professional performers, Obama won the Second Annual Shakuhachi Newcomer Competition (2000).
In recent years, Obama has drawn upon his musical experiences and influences and incorporated them into his own music. In 2004, Obama recorded his first solo shakuhachi album Fukoku [Wind Carvings] featuring improvised works. During the following year, he undertook a walking pilgrimage concert tour to the eighty-eight temples of Shikoku Island and revealed his second album Nami to Tsubaki to [Waves and Camellias and] consisting of his original compositions. In 2006, Obama was invited to the Swedish International Festival of Wind Music holding solo concerts and appearing with local musicians. This was followed by a month long tour of Europe. In 2007, Obama released visions. collaborating with electronic music artist hajimeinoue. In 2008, Obama was invited to the Japan Festival at The Kennedy Center (Washington, DC) and the Sydney World Shakuhachi Festival. He released Michinone [Street Music, New Sounds] working with satsuma-biwa [Satsuma plucked lute] player Yukihiro Goto. In 2012, Obama lived in New York for six months as a fellow of Asian Cultural Council (ACC) and released SUI [Water] with his band.
Currently, Obama performs as a solo musician and participates in various ensembles including “TAKiOBAND” led by Takio Ito, a minyo singer. He often appears in concerts overseas and has performed in over 30 countries. Obama has developed and refined his technique by performing in venues from small clubs to large concert halls with artists playing hogaku instruments and Western instruments. This has allowed him to penetrate traditional barriers and discover his own distinct sound.