Etsuko Takezawa

Koto, 17-string bass koto, jiuta shamisen, sho/Player

Profile (The Chronicle)

Born in Ishikawa-ken. Studied koto under maestros Tadao Sawai, Kazue Sawai and Takeshi Nakai.

Studied music theory and traditional Japanese

instruments at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.


Formed Koto group "Donguri". Overseas performances as Sawai Ensemble are as follows: World tour: 11 cities in Indonesia, Thailand, Germany, Italy and England (1987); participated in Bang On A Can festival (1984 -1988);

concerts in Vienna, Moscow and Ukraine (1991); Moers Jazz Festival, Germany (1992); Latvia and Estonia (1992); Paris (1993).


Received Ministry of Cultural Affairs Award for Artistic Excellence for

"The World of Koto - The Sawai Tadao Koto Ensemble". Toured in England with

the Sawai Koto Ensemble, including performances at the Glasgow Festival

(with the Scottish National Orchestra) and The Free Trade Hall (Manchester).


Performed Gagaku and Shomyo (Buddhism Chant), works by Maki Ishi and Toshi

Ichiyanagi using restored Japanese ancient instruments at the National

Theatre, Tokyo.


Performed at "La Mama" New York, including works by John Zorn. USA tour

with composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. Performed "Three Dances" by John Cage in

the presence of the composer. Recorded "Three Dances" for CD "Three

pieces", by Kazue Sawai. Duo recital series with Yoko Nishi at Shinjuku

Bipuran theatre


Formed koto quartet Koto Vortex, with Yoko Nishi, Michiyo Yagi and Miki

Maruta. Released album "Koto Vortex 1." Released album "Yuh" with Fumio



With Koto Vortex, performed new works and arrangements by Moondog,

Yoshihide Otomo, Kevin Volans and Elliott Sharp.


Collaborated with Phil Minton (voice) at Tokyo Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

Released album "Koto Vortex 2 - Arcadia." Performed with avant-garde

bassist Joelle Leandre in Tokyo. Performed works by Lou Harrison, Harry

Partch, and Terry Riley at Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo. Performed at the

Thailand Jazz Festival. Toured in Europe (Paris, Rome and Cologne) with

jazz pianist Fumio Itabashi. Started solo live series "Koto Monologue" and

performed in Rinsen Buddhism Temple, Nanao Arts Centre, the Japan

Foundation Centre and many others.


Toured in Thailand, supported by the Japan Foundation.


Performed at the "Japan Year in France" festival (Paris). Released CD "Five

Umui", featuring works by Kazuo Yoshikawa. Supervised music for a

theatrical work by Johann Nestroy, produced by Ulrike Ottinger, for

Steirischer Herbst 99 (Austria). Recorded sound track of the film "Kujaku",

directed by Christophe Doyle


Toured 7 cities in the USA as a member of Contemporary Sankyoku Ensemble,

supported by the Japan Foundation. With Koto Vortex, appeared on the

international compilation album "Miniatures 2 - a sequence of sixty tiny

masterpieces", produced by Morgan Fisher.


Recorded sound track for Sony Playstation software "Oni-musha" which sold

over 10 million copies all over the world.2001

Recorded and compiled a CD containing playing methods for the koto.

Was part of Inoue Keizo’s (saxophone) album 

Held the “Tao- Here Now” concert together with recitation by Kajima Shozo(poet)

Was a guest for Ondekoza’s live gig.


Formed the audio and visual collaboration unit (Futon Logic;Sizzle Ohtaka, etsuko Takezawa, Morgan Fisher, Bruce Ozborn, Kozo Chiba) 2003 May  Together with manga artist Chiba Tetsuya, performed at the London ICA which was the first performance by any Japanese and it proved to be  a success. (Tokyo Metropolitan, Japan Foundation, and Sasagawa foundation aid)


Jan. World primiere performance of Terashima RIkuya at the Japanese Cultural hall in Paris

Feb. Took part in the East and West Resonance event held at the Ishikawa prefectural concert hall

Jun.   Lobby concert together with Minato Oohiro?? at Asahi Beer’s Kanagawa factory

Jul.    Shamisen performance at the Touyou Music association and Acoustic association’s joint meeting

Aug.   Planned and performed at a music workshop sponsored by Kanazawa City’s Art village,  

         known as the “Finding the Koto’s potential Series”Contact”

   Part of “Nakamura Youichi’s Anthology” CD

Oct.   Performed at the “Yoshihara Sumire concert” held at the Yokohama port memorial hall 

         and organised by the Yokohama Art Project

Nov.  Together with Goto(biwa) and others, took part in the “Hougaku Shamisen” event sponsored 

         by the Kumamoto Theatre

   As part of Tokyo Metropolitan’s Cultural Affairs, was in charge of the “Contemporary Hougaku

         Research for Koto” workshop


Mar.   Primiere performance of Mizoiri Keizou’s shamisen opera “Neko ni Koban” sponsored by 

         the Japan Contemporary Music Association (Nihonbashi Theatre)

Apr.   Guest performer for Ondenkoza’s annual concert (Asakusa Public Hall)

May   Part of Iseki Kazuhiro’s “Illusion” CD

Jul.    Together with Ohtaka Shizzle, Yamaguchi Tomo,  Isso Yukihiro,[ET’S UNIT] had a lobby concert at Asahi Beer’s Moji factory. Organized by the Asahi Art Festival 2004.

Aug.  Was the Shamisen instructor for the “Japan Music Festival” at Kanazawa, organized by JASRAC.  As part of the “Contact” Series, held an exhibition with Yoshimura Hiroshi’s work and 

         her own composition in the program

Oct   Premiere of “Hougaku Opera” at the Kineya Seihou assembly. Organised by the Contemporary

        Shamisen Music Association.

        Took part in the opening event for the Kanazawa 21st century Art Museum (with Koto Vortex)

Dec. Made the dance collaboration event successful in Estonia (Tallinn City Music Association’s 10th Anniversary Project. At the Nishikawa Yuko(japanese MAI) Assembly, performed the  premiere of Shimazu Takehito’s composition for the Korean zither entitled “Hoshi Meguri~  Was a lectured at Gifu University from that year


Jan.  Premiere performance of Shitanda Motoyuki’s composition  “Gathering Dreams” 

        at the Japanese Composers Assembly Concert (at Sumida Triphony Hall).

Jul.   a Koto recital by Etsuko Takezawa at LSO St. Luke's, London

Aug.  Performed at Portugal’s FNN festival

Nov.  As the Japan Traditional Music  Research Society’s leader, toured and performed

         in various places in Germany


Feb.  Part of Mizoiri Keizo’s CD entitled “Neko Ni Kohan”, as Shamisen and vocal.


Aug. Released a cd entitled “Kawashima Tetsuro Meets Takezawa Etsuko Duo CD “Passion of Asia”  by M&I Company


Oct. Invited for the first “Medetion Bennare” in Poznan, Poland.  Performed at a City art gallery


Jan.  Performance in Houston, New York. Organized by the Japan Cultural Exchange  Foundation, 

        Asian Society 

Apr.  A member of KOTO VORTEX, Performance of  Terry Riley’s composition “In C” at Carnegie Hall.   Musician Produced by Kronos Quartet.


Dec.  Premiere of Ohtsuka Akane’s New Composition concerto at the Ichikawa Symphony’s

         60th anniversary concert Academic activities:

2003~2008 Teacher at Fukushima Prefecture’s “Children Arts School”

Academic activities: Current

Lecturer at Fukushima University, Kinjyo Gakuin University, Ariake Fine Arts Junior College

Holds a Master’s license from the Sawai Soukyokuin

Etsuko Takezawa lectured at Joetsu Education University(~2008)and Gifu University(2004)

and Senzoku Music Junior  College in Uozu(1990).

History of Awards and Achievements:

1985 Passed the new comer audition for the “Anti Nuclear Japan Musicians”

1987 Part of the “Tadao Sawai Ensemble CD(Koto)(Columbia) which won the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affair’s Work of Art Award.

1998 Received the Saitama Prefecture Cultural Arts Festival Encouragement Award