New York based koto / shamisen player and singer Yoko Reikano Kimura and cellist Hikaru Tamaki create a singular fusion sound, inspired by tradition but with a contemporary sensibility. Duo YUMENO’s repertoire includes a dynamic range of compositions – both traditional and contemporary – all of which explore the dialogue between classical Japanese and western music. In 2014, they were awarded the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program grant, and in 2015, received the Aoyama Baroque Saal Award. Their activities have been featured in the media, like the New York Times, Chamber Music Magazine, New York Classical Review, the Japan Times, Hōgaku Journal and NPR. A proponent of contemporary music, the duo has commissioned new works that blends the Eastern and Western traditions to composers including Toshi Ichiyanagi, Daron Hagen, Marty Regan, Yoko Sato, Elizabeth Brown, Takuma Itoh and Kaito Nakahori. Between 2010 and 2013, the duo commissioned Flowers, Birds, Wind, Moon – a suite of pieces that explores the theme of nature depicted in traditional Japanese culture – to Marty Regan. In recognition of the project, they were awarded the Janet Latz Professional Fellowship in 2011. It was culminated in their debut CD, Flowers, Birds, Wind, Moon that was released in 2015. In 2015 the duo embarked on a project to commission a suite of pieces based on The Tale of Heike – one of the masterpieces of Japanese literature – to the eminent American composer, Daron Hagen. The complete recording of the commissioned pieces, Heike Quinto is scheduled to be released by the Naxos label.
Kimura and Tamaki first collaborated in 2008 and since then, have been performing regularly in the US and Japan. They have been actively presenting their cross-cultural programs throughout the US and have performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, the John F Kennedy Center, the United Nations, New England Conservatory, Japan Society, Japanese Ambassador’s Residence in New York as well as Washington DC, Renaissance Society of Chicago, Clark Art Institute and Rubin Museum of Art. In 2016, they were invited by Chamber Music America to give a feature performance at its national conference concert. In 2017, the duo was featured at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC. The duo also performed its 10th anniversary recital to a sold-out audience at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2019. In order to promote intercultural music to the younger generation, the duo was invited to present residency programs at Princeton University, University of Chicago, University of Hawaii, the Hartt School and Longy School of music, giving recitals and unique opportunities for young composers to create new works for koto, shamisen and cello.
Since 2010, they have held a successful annual tour to Japan that has extended to such cities as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. Some of the notable venues are the Tokyo National Museum, the Myōnichi-kan Auditorium (Tokyo), the Aoyama Music Memorial Hall (Kyoto) as well as Kasuga Grand Shrine, Ryōan-ji and Yakushi-ji Temples and other UNESCO World Heritage sites. As a cultural ambassador of Japanese music, the duo was invited to Turkey in 2013, performing at the former Consulate General of Japan in Istanbul and at Namik Kemal University in Tekirdag. In 2014, they visited Trinidad and were featured at the opening concert of “Japan – CARICOM (14 Caribbean countries) Friendship Year 2014” – an event promoted by the Japan Foundation, NY and co-organized by the Embassy of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago. In 2015, the duo was invited to perform at Clare Hall, a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. In 2018, they performed at Los Andes University in Bogota, Colombia in an event to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Japan-Colombia diplomatic relations. Recently, the duo performed for the ceremony of the new appointment of the Honorary Consulate General of Japan in Puerto Rico.
“Played with precision and deep feeling” – New York Classical Review
Yoko Reikano Kimura
Yoko Reikano Kimura (koto and shamisen) is one of the most captivating artistic voices of Japanese koto and shamisen, consistently praised by critics for her musical elegance and versatile repertoire. Based in New York and Japan, Kimura has concertized around the world, including prestigious venues such as the Warsaw Autumn Festival, Israel Festival, Nova Arts in Bordeaux, Vilnius Festival, The University of Cambridge, John F. Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum, New York Live Arts, Park Avenue Armory, Japan Society, Kabuki-za and various World Heritage Sites. Kimura has worked with renowned artists such as Heiner Goebbels, Toshi Ichiyanagi, and Basil Twist. Highlights of her soloist performances include Daron Hagen’s Koto Concerto: Genji with the Wintergreen Music Festival Orchestra conducted by Mei-Ann Chen, Aleksandra Vrebalov’s Four Ethereal Pieces with Symphony Orchestra Academy of Novi Sad, James Nyoraku Schlefer’s Concertante at the Round Top Music Festival, Kaito Nakahori’s Japanese Footbridge for koto and chamber ensemble at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall and Kin’ichi Nakanoshima’s Shamisen Concerto at the National Olympic Memorial Center. Her performances have broadcasted on NPR’s Performance Today, NHK-FM’s Hogaku no Hitotoki, WKCR and Nippon TV’s The MUSIC DAY. Her awards include the First prize at the prestigious 10th Kenjun Memorial National Koto Competition, the First prize at the 4th Great Wall International Music Competition, and a scholarship from the Agency of Cultural Affairs of Japan. Following her studies at the Tokyo University of the Arts, she studied at Institute of Traditional Japanese Music, an affiliate of Senzoku Gakuen College of Music in Japan, where she was a faculty member until 2010. Her teachers include Kono Kameyama, Akiko Nishigata and Senko Yamabiko, a Living National Treasure. In 2022, Kimura served as the consultant (Japanese koto) for the Carnegie Hall’s educational program.
Hikaru Tamaki concertizes regularly as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player in the US and Japan. He served as the principal cellist of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and was a member of the Freimann String Quartet from 2001 until 2013. Solo performances with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic have included numerous major concertos in the cello repertoire. Tamaki was a prizewinner in the prestigious All Japan Viva Hall Cello Competition in 2000. During his annual visits to Japan, he has given solo performances, lecture concerts and chamber concerts. He was a member of the Arcadia Piano Trio and performed together with them at various venues in Japan and the U.S., including the United Nations. He has given a lecture concert at Gakushuin Women’s College in Tokyo, and his activities have been featured in the media such as the Yomiuri and Kyoto Shinbun newspapers. In 2008, he released his first solo album, which includes the works of J.S. Bach and Toshiro Mayuzumi. From 2016, he has served as the principal cellist of the Berkshire Opera Festival and is also a member of the Albany Symphony Orchestra and the Allentown Symphony Orchestra. He has performed in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, Town Hall and Fisher Performing Arts Center. Born in Kyoto, Tamaki’s studies in Japan were with Noboru Kamimura and Peter Seidenberg. Studies in the United States began at the Eastman School of Music, where he was named a George Eastman Scholar, and continued at Rice University and Northwestern University for his graduate degree. His teachers were Paul Katz and Hans Jorgen Jensen.