Join us for an insightful discussion about the history and features of the shamisen with Janet Pocorobba, author of The Fourth String: A Memoir of Sensei and Me.
In Japan, the shamisen is used to accompany kabuki plays and traditional puppet theater. However, Janet followed a slightly different path. She took up learning the instrument under her eccentric teacher, while she was living abroad in Japan. Eventually, Japan Cosmo featured Janet as one of the most accomplished gaijin (or "foreigner") to play the instrument. At this talk, Janet will also give a demonstration performance. Plus, hear about Janet's own personal journey to learning this instrument, the differences she sees between Japanese and American musical cultures, and the lessons her teacher taught her in Japanese culture through the shamisen.
Janet Pocorobba's involvement with Japan stretches back more than twenty years. She has studied shamisen, the three drums of the kabuki orchestra (ko-tsuzumi, o-tsuzumi, and shimedaiko), and Japanese dance. In the U.S., Janet has lectured on Japanese music and taught shamisen individually and in lecture-demonstrations. She has performed in concert halls, schools, museums, culture fairs, backyards, and in the home of the Consul-General of Japan in Boston. In 2009, she created and toured, "17 Views of a Shamisen," a spoken word and music performance relating the paradoxes and angst of cross-cultural living. Janet was a features writer and editor at Tokyo Classified, now Metropolis, Tokyo's #1 English magazine. Her work has also appeared in The Rumpus, The Writer Harvard Review, The Journal, Indiana Journal, Provincetown Arts, and others. She is currently Associate Professor and Associate Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Lesley University.