Japanese Koto and Shamisen player and jazz singer/songwriter Sumie (Sumi-é) Kaneko is known for her fusion of jazz with her Japanese roots. Kaneko creates music that spans a millennium. A master in the traditional repertoire of these ancient instruments, she has also pioneered their use in jazz and experimental music, through solo and group performances worldwide. Her appearance as part of MIT’s World Music Day (Saturday, December 3, in Kresge Auditorium) will feature new works by Christine Southworth and Evan Ziporyn, a first-ever collaboration with MIT’s Gamelan Galak Tika, and solo works from her acclaimed new album, Dead of the Night.
Sumie began playing Koto at age 5, by the following year she was appearing on Japanese radio NHK. In 1995, she won the Takasaki International Competition in Koto performance. She studied Japanese traditional music at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and in 2006, studied Jazz vocal at Berklee College of Music. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Getty Center, Boston Ballet, Silk Road Project and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She has also given workshops at Harvard University, Princeton University, Wellesley College and Berklee College of Music, among other institutions. In 2014, her group was invited to the Washington, DC Jazz Festival, which is co-sponsored by the Embassy of Japan.
She has collaborated with many world instrumentalists, such as Kenny Endo, Kaoru Watanabe, On Ensemble, Yumiko Tanaka, as well as painters, dancers and calligraphers. She has toured internationally in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Jamaica and Bangladesh. In 2015, she performed in Delhi, Islamabad, Karachi and Dhaka. She has just released her second album, Dead of the Night.