Miya Masaoka (b. 1958), musician, composer, performance artist, has created works for koto, laser interfaces, laptop and video and written scores for ensembles, chamber orchestras and mixed choirs. In her performance pieces she has investigated the sound and movement of insects, as well as the physiological responses of plants, the human brain, and her own body. Within these varied contexts of sound, music and nature, her performance work emphasizes the interactive, live nature of improvisation, and reflects an individual, contemporary expression of Japanese gagaku aural gesturalism.
Masaoka’s work has been presented in Japan, Canada, Europe, Eastern Europe and she has toured to India six times. Venues include V2 in Rotterdam, Cybertheater in Brussels, Elektronisch Festival in Groningen, the Cleveland Performance Art Festival, The Electronik Body Festival in Bratislava, Slovakia, Radio Bremen, Germany, Festival of Lights, Hyberadad, India, and the London Musicians Collective.
Since forming and directing the San Francisco Gagaku Society, Masaoka has been creating new ways of thinking about and performing on the Japanese koto. She has developed a virtuosic and innovative approach, including improvisation and expanding the instrument into a virtual space using computer, lasers, live sampling, and real time processing.
Masaoka has been developing koto interfaces with midi controllers since the 1980’s originally with Tom Zimmerman, co-inventor of the Body Glove. Since then, she has she has worked at STEIM, Amsterdam, CNMAT, and with Donald Swearingen to build interfaces with the computer and koto, at times using pedals, light sensors, motion sensors and ultrasound. With the koto connected directly to her laptop, she records her playing live, and processes the samples in real time. This new koto is able to respond dynamically and interactively in a variety of musical environments, and improvise with the processed sounds.
© Del Sol Performing Arts Organization • Photos by RJ Muna