2016 Summer Travel Grant Series: Summer Study in Japanese Music

Summer Travel Grant 2016 Recipient

Chris Molina

Graduate Degree Fellow


I flew to Tokyo on June 1, 2016 to begin two-and-a-half months of summer study in Japanese music. Twice weekly I met Mr. Kazushi Matama for one-on-one lessons in shakuhachi bamboo flute. In addition to these meetings, I arranged regular meetings with three instrumentalists through Senzoku Gakuen School of Music. The first was shamisen master Mr. Tetsuya Nozawa, the second was koto master Ms. Michie Kobayashi, and the third was shakuhachi specialist in contemporary music, Mr. Kenji Yamaguchi.

In consultation with these players, I was able to compose and edit original music for all three instruments, adapting initial sketches and drafts according to each player’s advice and reactions. While in Tokyo I also made important connections with four more instrumentalists. These included biwa players Ms. Akiko Sakurai and Mr. Kazuyuki Shiotaka, both of whom offered to play my music; koto player Ms. Kikuko Sato, who invited me to join her studio as a shakuhachi player when I move to Tokyo after graduation; and American shamisen player and composer Ms. Colleen Schmuckal, who offered insight into multiple new music scenes in Tokyo.


This travel grant covered one-way airfare to Tokyo, for which I am grateful. Many thanks to the EWC alumni for creating and maintaining this opportunity for EWC students.




The East-West Center Association (EWCA) and the EWCA Hawaii Chapter provided Travel Grants ($500 each) to 10 current East West Center students for the summer of 2016.