September 19, 2008
Contact: Sara R. Leonard
Concert and Production Manager

The yearlong Amherst College Music festival Faultlines: Mapping Jazz in the 21st Century will continue on Wednesday, Oct. 15, with a concert and lecture by critically acclaimed New York-based composer and koto performer Miya Masaoka. Masaoka’s lecture, titled “Laser Strings, Insects and Bodies,” will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Room 212 of the Arms Music Center at Amherst College, while the concert will begin at 8:30 p.m. in Buckley Recital Hall in the Center. The latter will include improvisations and compositions for solo koto, as well as Masaoka’s signature laser/electro-acoustic processing of the instrument. Both events are free and open to the public.

Masaoka Laser Koto
Widely acknowledged as one of the most influential experimental kotoists of our time, Masaoka is an accomplished composer, sound artist and electronics musician. The Los Angeles Times describes Masaoka as “masterful and conceptually restless … mak[ing] it her business to usher the Japanese instrument [the koto] into contemporary contexts, combing respect for tradition with new musical applications.” Masaoka’s unique music draws from classical music, improvised and experimental music, performance art and gagaku (traditional Japanese court music). She has performed with many leading figures in jazz and experimental music, including Pharaoh Sanders, Cecil Taylor, Pauline Oliveros, Andrew Cyrille, Joan Jeanrenaud, Reggie Workman and Fred Frith. As a composer and sound artist, her work has been prominently featured around the world at such festivals and venues as Venice Biennale 2004, the Miller Theater (New York), Ircam (Paris), Radio Breman (Germany), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), London Musicians’ Collective’s Festival of Experimental Music and the Santa Fe Electro-Acoustic Music Festival.

The Faultlines festival celebrates jazz pluralism and experimentalism and features some of the most creative and provocative artists in American music.  It includes concerts, performance workshops, talks and roundtable discussions—all free and open to the public, and all guaranteed to generate passionate debate about the nature of jazz and its relationship to American cultural identity. The festival is made possible through the generous support of Amherst College’s Arts Series Fund, Department of Music and Mead Art Museum, as well as the University of Massachusetts Amherst Fine Arts Center’s Solos and Duos Concert Series and Magic Triangle Concert Series.

For more information about the Masaoka concert and lecture or any other events associated with Faultlines: Mapping Jazz in the 21st Century, visit the festival Web site at or e-mail