AGA-SHIO in Concert

Friday August 23, 2019 @7:30 PM

Kobayashi Hall, Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

6 Garamond Court, Toronto

Tickets: $25.00 / JCCC members: $22.00
– HST included. General Seating. Tickets are non-refundable.
– Tickets will be available on May 13.

Purchase tickets here or call JCCC: 416.441.2345

In the spirit of celebrating the 90th Anniversary of Canada-Japan diplomatic relations, The Japan Foundation, Toronto presents AGA-SHIO, a Tsugaru-shamisen and piano duo that blend the passionate energy of Japanese folk music together with contemporary music, creating an entirely new form of Japanese music. AGA-SHIO are Hiromitsu Agatsuma on the three stringed Tsugaru-shamisen, and Satoru Shionoya on Piano


Hiromitsu Agatsuma

Shamisen Player

Hiromitsu Agatsuma began playing the Tsugaru-shamisen at age six. He won in numerous competitions, becoming a renowned performer in the traditional Japanese music scene since his youth. His reputation grew as he incorporated genres such as jazz and rock into his music, and made his major debut in 2001.

Show More on Hiromitsu Agatsuma here

His first and sixth albums won the prestigious “Japan Gold Disk Award”; his second album was released in the United States in 2003, for which he made his first tour overseas. He has performed in Australia, Brazil, and Russia, as well as in various countries throughout Asia and Europe. Agatsuma has collaborated with numerous artists such as Marcus Miller (B) and Herbie Hancock (Pf).

Hiromitsu Agatsuma began studying the Tsugaru-shamisen at the age of six. Since his early childhood, he frequented various shamisen competitions and won many prizes, subsequently receiving high recognition in the field of traditional Japanese music. His reputation grew as he ventured out into other genres of music such as jazz and rock.

In 2001, he made his major debut with EMI Music Japan with an eponymous album, “AGATSUMA”. It was named the Traditional Japanese Music Album of the Year at the 16th Japan Gold Disc Awards.

His second album, “BEAMS~AGATSUMA II” released by Doom Records in the US, led him to a successful tour of the East Coast.

In 2005, he toured the EU and won the Japan Gold Disc Award for the second time with “EN”, his sixth album. The next album to follow in 2009 was “AGA-SHIO” by a two-piece unit of Agatsuma and Satoru Shionoya, a pianist and producer. In 2010, an extensive tour took the unit to nine different countries in Japan, Europe and Africa.

Two more albums were released that year: “JUKKI”, a studio recording of classics that includes folk songs of Tsugaru, and “THE BEST OF HIROMITSU AGATSUMA -Freedom-”, a best album. He celebrated his anniversary year with “The 10th Anniversary Special Concert ~Tradition and Innovation~”. In 2011, he inaugurated “-KABUKI-”, an event where internationally acclaimed Japanese artists meet.

He has been active not only as a performer but also as a producer, with his creations transcending genres, and Hiromitsu Agatsuma remains a valued asset.

He had the privilege of representing Japan and performing at the official dinner for TOKYO 2020 and the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, both hosted by Prime Minister Abe.

In 2014, he composed and performed Ebizo Ichikawa’s Kabuki production. It was unprecedented for a Kabuki stage to have a Tsugaru shamisen.

He also composes the score for various scenes for stage, film, television and artist both in Japan and internationally.

In 2017 he was named “Ibaraki Ambassador” by Ibaraki Prefecture.

At “Expo 2017 Astana” in July of that year in Kazakhstan, he produced and performed a concert at the Japan Pavilion to introduce Japanese culture to the world.

He also makes a great effort to pass the culture down to the next generation, and visits elementary schools all over Japan to teach the children how fun Japanese traditional music can be. Hiromitsu Agatsuma is a leader of the new generation shamisen players.

Satoru Shionoya


Satoru Shionoya studied music composition at Tokyo University of the Arts. While he was still a student he started his 10 year career as the pianist of the Japanese salsa band Orquesta De La Luz (1986-1996). The group won the United Nations Peace Medal in 1993 and was a U.S. Grammy Award nominee in 1995. During this time, he performed with Tito Puente, Dave Valentin and Santana.

Show More on Satoru Shionoya here

While still with the group he started working as a solo artist in 1993, and has released over 12 original albums to date. His musical activities are diverse, composing and arranging scores in a wide array of genres including jazz, pops, classical, Big Band and for full orchestras.

Outside of his own group, he has appeared with Makoto Ozone (p), performed as a member of “SALT & SUGAR” with Chikuzen Sato (vo) and “AGA-SHIO” with Hiromitsu Agatsuma (shamisen), and collaborated with various artist including Richard Stoltzman (cla), Sadao Watanabe (sax), Kaori Muraji (g), Iwao Furusawa (vln), Paquito D’Rivera, and Herbie Hancock, among others. His activities cross over a wide range of forms and genres, including producing the “COOL CLASSICS” concert series (1999-2001) at Bunkamura Orchard Hall and performing with orchestras (Osaka Symphony Orchestra in 2017, and the NHK Symphony Orchestra in 2017 and 2018). Recently he has been involved in the sound production for recording artist Ayaka. In television, in addition to providing orchestral arrangements for NHK’s “Meikyoku Album”, he was involved with “Shionoya Satoru no Rizumu de Piano” for NHK Educational TV’s Shumi Do Raku (2014), Fuji TV’s drama Mutsuu –Mieru Me- (2015), and currently is in charge of music for NHK Educational TV’s musical puppet variety show Korenande Shoukai (2016~). As of 2012 he is also a lecturer at Kunitachi College of Music.

Click here to listen to AGA-SHIO perform Jonkara Rhapsody or Shufflin City

AGA-SHIO digital-only album is available for sale! Exactly 10 years from its release and leading up to their concert in Canada, their debut album is being digitally reissued worldwide! Available on Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes, RecoChoku, and more.

Those two musicians met in 2004. The music and sound expressed in their first album “AGA-SHIO” (Avex, 2009) are a completely new style of Japan-originated contemporary music which entails strong energy that Japanese folk music produces as well as the consistency performed by piano.

AGA-SHIO has toured not only in Japan but also in Europe and Africa in 2010 (Germany, Czech, Egypt, France, Spain, Congo, South Africa) and in Europe in 2014 (Czech, France, Italy, Germany, Hungary).

Show About the Canada-Japan 90th Anniversary

2019 marks the 90th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and Japan. A wide range of events celebrating the 90th anniversary of Canada-Japan diplomatic relations are taking place across Canada during this celebratory year.

Show About the Japan Foundation, Toronto

The Japan Foundation is a non-profit organization that aspires to the role of catalyst for international cultural exchange, presenting valuable and appealing aspects of Japanese culture to other countries and promoting mutual understanding with peoples around the world. The Japan Foundation is a global network in 24 countries, and the Canadian office is located in Toronto hosting film screenings, exhibitions, lectures, Japanese classes and many more activities throughout the year.

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