SHOKO NAGAI - Biography
Pianist Accordionist Improviser Composer
Shoko Nagai is a versatile musical artist who improvises and performs with world-renowned musicians on piano and accordion and composes original scores for films and live performances. As a teenager in her native Japan, Nagai was trained on Yamaha's electronic organ, the "Electone," to perform popular music. Since moving to the U.S. from Japan and studying classical and jazz music at Berklee, she has adapted her mastery of the keyboard to prepared piano, accordions, the melodica and other instruments, often inspired by the minimalist approach of composer Takemitsu Toru. Whether she is performing Klezmer, Balkan or experimental music, Nagai is a charismatic presence onstage, who hypnotizes audiences with her intense focus and virtuoso sound.
Since moving to New York in 1999 she has been dubbed an "MVP" of the downtown jazz scene, performing with John Zorn, Erik Friedlander, Ikue Mori, Marc Ribot, Frank London, Matana Roberts, Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto), Satoshi Takeishi, Butch Morris, Elliot Sharp, Ned Rothenberg and many eclectic performers. Nagai frequently tours internationally, performing in Sweden (2009 Nobel Prize ceremony for German writer, Herta Muller), Italy (Napoli Teatro Festival 2015), Austria (Saalffelden Jazz Festival 2014), France (Banlieues Bleues 2012), Switzerland (Rote Fabrik 2012), Holland (Bimhuis 2012), Japan (Fuji Rock Festival 2012), Israel (Romanian Institute 2011), Canada (Suoni Popolo Festival 2008), Germany (Moers Jazz festival 2007), and Brazil (resfest 2007) and in the U.S. (Newport Jazz Festival 2015, Saratoga Jazz Festival 2008). She has received grants from JazzJants (Painted Bride Arts Center) in 2008 and the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2010.
Nagai's compositions for films include, L'amour Cache (2007), directed by Alessandro Capone and conducted by Butch Morris, as well as a trio of films directed by Linda Hoaglund: ANPO: Art X War (2010 Toronto, DOC NYC, Vancouver, and Hong Kong film festivals), Things Left Behind, (2012) produced by Japan's national broadcaster, NHK, and The Wound and The Gift, narrated by Vanessa Redgrave (Vancouver, DOC NYC, Tokyo FilmX 2014).
CARE (2016 DOC NYC, AFI DOCS, Sheffield Doc Fest, Reelworld Impact Award) directed by Diredre Fishel
Self-produced CD: "Taken Shadows"
Erik Freidlander: "Nothing On Earth”
Frank London: “Songs of Zebulon”
Inna Barmash " Yiddish Lullabies& Love Songs"
Sanda Weigl " Gypsy in a tree"
Recent Tours and Performances
Japan tour of Vortex 2015 (Shoko Nagai and Satoshi Takeishi, an experimental electro-acoustic duo)
European tour 2015 with Erik Friedlander performing from “Nothing on Earth”
Italian tour 2015 with Marco Cappelli, performing with Italian actor Andrea Renzi, in a play based on Italian detective story, written by Maurizio de Giovanni.
2015 New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival
2015 Newport Jazz Festival with Matana Roberts
2015 New York Shakespeare Festival
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