News – July 2024

ESS commissions new shakuhachi music!

The ESS is thrilled to announce a special commission for this year’s Summer School in Finland:  We asked world renowned composer Marty Regan to create a special ‘group piece’ for Finland 2024 which will have its World Premiere at the Sibelius Museum in Turku. This ‘group piece’ will be performed by teachers and participants of the Summer School and welcomes players of all levels too. Read more here.

To find out all the details for this year’s ESS Summer School and to sign up, visit


Bamboo Spring/Summer 2024

Next issue winter 2024

ESS Summer School 2024: Finland!

The ESS in collaboration with the Finnish Shakuhachi Association is preparing the ESS Summer School in Finland in 2024. The dates are from 29. July to 1. August 2024.

Like every Summer School, we will offer a range of workshops, talks and lessons from established teachers and shakuhachi practitioners covering a wide array of different shakuhachi schools and styles. This year we have for the first time a major Ueda-ryū player as guest and another special ingredient in this years’ event will be a hitoyogiri making workshop.

From Japan we welcome Tani Yasunori, iemoto daihyo (representing the iemoto) dai-shihan of Ueda-ryū, who will present Ueda-ryū honkyoku and sankyoku, from Australia Riley Lee will be teaching Chtkuho-ryū honkyoku and contemporary pieces, Gunnar Jinmei Linder from Chikumeisha will teach sōkyoku and honkyoku, Hélène Seiyu Codjo will present Hijiri-Kai pieces and own compositions, Kiku Day will present Zensabo and Myoan honkyoku, Emmanuelle Rouaud will teach KSK honkyoku, shinkyoku and moving image improvisation session with Thorsten Knaub who will also present jiari-shakuhachi making and a shakuhachi clinic, and our special guest for koto/shamisen accompaniment and teaching will be Naoko Kikuchi.

Our special guests and co-organisers from the Finnish Shakuhachi Association, Aaro Haavisto will teach Ueda-ryū basics and lead the hitoyogiri-making workshop, Otto Eskelinen introduces us to Finnish folk music played on shakuhachi and Sakari Heikka will present a workshop on how to play and improvise with scales and modes on shakuhachi. Last but not least Sangen Salo will give us a taste of zazen and his take on shakuhachi & zen.

Programme & Registration

This is not all. Please see our draft schedule on the website for current timetable and other sessions and talks happening. And please note, in general our programme caters for all levels – from beginner/elementary to intermediate to advanced.

Visit our dedicated website where you will find all the different registration options (accommodation/meals packages or summer school participation only) and also can complete our new online registration there. ESS members receive discounted registration fees.

All the info here:

See you in Finland!

With the support of the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation.

New Workshops – June 2024

Last but not least…. the final event in the ESS Online Season 2023-24 is approaching.

But rather than winding down we turn the dial to 11 and put together a very exciting event around Shakuhachi & Improvisation on Sunday 2 June 2024.

This session brings with it a rare opportunity to hear Ned Rothenberg and his take and philosophy of using shakuhachi in the improvisation context. We are very happy to have him on board for this event. Equally happy though we are with our other two guests Detta Danford and cellist Juliet Colyer who will add their own improvisation flavours to the workshop.

Read more here:

In general, all playing levels are welcome to take part in the workshops. And as usual, even if one cannot play at the required level, the experience of hearing an expert player and teacher can be part of a learning process. So simply sitting in on and listening to a workshop at a higher level can be a valuable experience too. 

Date: 02 June 2024
Time (CEST): 10h00 – 12h30 & 15h00 – 17h00
Fees: ESS members/Non-Members €25/€30

Hope to see you there!

ESS New Year Concert 2024!

A big thanks to our audience and performers of the New Year Concert — thank you for sharing that moment together!

The ESS New Year Concert took place on Sunday 21 January 2024 and had the theme “Shakuhachi Animals”. Some comments from participants:

Thank You very much
Thank you everyone who played and thank you to the organisers!
Thank you. Furuya Sensei thank you!
Thanks to all the performers and organizers! Great show!
Thank you, great concert!
This concert was so amazing, breathtaking and wonderful. Touching me deeply. Thank you to everybody! Am looking forward to the next concerts!

You can find out more about the concert and read reactions from audience members on the ESS New Year’s Concert page.

Online Events Season 2023/24

We have announced an exciting series of online events and workshops for 2023-2024, including:

• 15 October – Introductory workshop for beginners (Riley Lee, Daniel Ryudo)
• 11-12 November – Beginner/Elementary workshops (Riley Lee, Daniel Ryudo, Véronique Piron, Elizabeth Reian Bennett)

• 21 January – ESS New Year Concert (free – book here)
• 11 February – StartingUp/Beginner workshops (Christopher Yohmei Blasdel and Kiku Day)
• 2-3 March – Intermediate/Advanced workshops (Akihito Obama, James Nyoraku Schlefer, Elizabeth Brown, Gunnar Jinmei Linder)
• A series of five events in April/May 2024 exploring voice and shakuhachi
– 13 April – Shōmyō Buddhist chant (Junko Ueda)
– 14 April – Singing honkyoku workshop (Teruo Furuya)
– 20 April – Voice in sankyoku workshop (Shino Arisawa, Miyama McQueen-Tokita)
– 27 April – Min’yō workshop (Kinzaburo Abe)
– 4 May – Vocalising shakuhachi (Anne Norman)
• 2 June – Shakuhachi & Improvisation (Ned Rothenberg, Detta Danford, Natasha Zielazinski)

To find out more about the schedules, teachers, and to register for the workshops, visit our dedicated page:

ESS Summer School in Balbriggan, 20-24 July 2023

With huge thanks to Phil Horan and his team in Ireland, this year’s ESS Summer School was a huge success. We left the beautiful island of Ireland full of inspiration, ideas, new pieces, memories of amazing performances by the teachers and students, and of course bellies full of Guiness!

Sakura Planting Ceremony at the ESS Summer School in Balbriggan 2023

Ambassador of Japan to Ireland Mr. Maruyama (third from left), next to CEO of the Irish Institute for Music and Dance, Michael Dawson (first from left) and Phil Soumei Horan (on right)
Playing Sakura in the rain – from left: Philip Soumei Horan, Ambassador of Japan to Ireland Mr. Maruyama, Kiku Day, Thorsten Knaub (ESS Chair), Araki Kodo VI and Riley Lee
The commemorative plaque and sakura tree

One of the most memorable events of the ESS Summer School 2023 was the planting of the sakura tree. The Ambassador of Japan to Ireland, Mr. Maruyama, made a special visit to the Irish Institute of Music and Song in Balbriggan to show his support for the Summer School. He attended the Gala Concert with performances by some of the teachers at the Summer School, and we then all went out to the garden of the IIMS grounds and took part in a tree-planting ceremony.

In the ceremony we all stood in the gentle rain as a few speeches were given, and then we collectively played Sakura Sakura, while the Ambassador took the spade and ceremonically planted a sakura tree in the garden of the IIMS together with a dedicated plaque to commemorate this special event.

The plaque features a beautiful engraving of a shakuhachi player and has the following inscription:

This Sakura tree, symbolising the spirit of the Japanese people which is closely associated with the culture of Japan has been planted by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Ireland, Ambassador Maruyama Norio, to mark the occasion of the Irish Institute of Music & Song hosting the European Shakuhachi Summer School 19th to 24th July 2023