• About Masayo


Masayo Ishigure began playing the koto and jiuta shamisen at the age of five in Gifu, Japan and has created an extensive multi-faceted career that continues to stretch the limits of the koto while maintaining a strong grasp of the tradition. After initial studies with Tadao and Kazue Sawai, Masayo became a special research student in 1986 at the Sawai Koto Academy of Music -The academy incorporates many influences from classical to jazz and aims to change the perception of the koto from solely as a traditional Japanese instrument to an instrument of universal expressiveness.

Masayo Ishigure became one of a small group of virtuoso disciples of the Sawais and successfully completed the 33rd Ikusei-kai program sponsored by NHK to foster and train aspiring artists in Japanese music. In 1988, Ms.Ishigure received a degree in Japanese Traditional Music from Takasaki Junior Arts College with a concentration on koto and shamisen.
Ms. Isigure moved to New York City in 1992 and has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, BAM, Merkin Hall, Asia Society, Japan Society, Metropolitan Museum, and other venues in the New York City metropolitan area. She has been invited to perform at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, the Smithsonian Institute, and was a guest artist with the Seattle Symphony, Hartford Symphony, San Diego Symphony, New Haven Symphony Orchestra.
Masayo Ishigure has appeared in concerts for the World Music Institute, Japan Society, Music from Japan, the China Institute and has participated in music festivals in Japan, Thailand, Brazil, Holland, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Belarus, Jamaica, Hawaii and Alaska. Masayo Ishigure also accompanied several performances by New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Mr. Peter Boal.
She has been featured in multiple television broadcasts some of which included music for CBS Master Works used during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. She has also recorded koto music for use in several television commercials.
In 2005, Masayo Ishigure was a recording artist alongside Yitzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, and others on the Grammy Award-Winning soundtrack from the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” (SAYURI) by John Williams.

Nominated as “100 Japanese People the World Respects” by Newsweek Magazine in 2007. Awarded and received 2016 Consul General’s Commendation.

In 2016 Masayo was nominated as one of the “Top 5 Japanese Women Promoting Japanese Culture in New York” by Prime Minister Abe.

In 2018 she celebrated her 25th anniversary of performing and teaching in the United States.

In 2019 Masayo held a concert in her home prefecture of Gifu, Japan

She recorded “Tori no Yoni”: (Flying Like a Bird) on the CD entitled “The World of Tadao Sawai”; and Hayao Miyazaki’s animation songs arranged for koto and shakuhachi on the album “East Wind Ensemble”. In 2001, she released her own solo CD entitled Grace
Masayo Ishigure has taught koto and shamisen at Wesleyan University, CT and Columbia University since 2010 and offers private lessons in New York City, New Jersey and Washington DC.