Brian Mitsuhiro Wong, an American of Japanese and Chinese descent, won the “Grand Prix” award for achieving the highest scores on his teaching examinations from the Sawai Soukyokuin Koto Conservatory in Tokyo, Japan in July 2006, surpassing many Japanese native candidates. Brian was tested in vocal and instrumental performance, classical and contemporary koto works, shamisen, Japanese music theory and music history, sight reading, sight singing, and tuning accuracy.
In December 2019, Brian became the second koto performer from outside of Japan to qualify as a contestant in the prestigious Kenjun Koto Competition in Kurume, Japan.
Brian continues a brilliant legacy of koto performance in America that spans three generations, and has roots in the internment camps of World War II. His mother, Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto, also a koto teacher and musician, taught Brian how to play the koto from the age of 4. At the age of 16, Brian attended a concert Madame Kazue Sawai. Sawai Sensei’s performance was dynamic and exciting. Brian was inspired by her performance, and decided to continue his studies at the Sawai Soukyokuin in Tokyo, Japan.
In June 2007, Brian also earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music Composition at California State University East Bay in Hayward, California. He has written works western and eastern instruments. Brian is also a jazz saxophonist. His musical mentors growing up were Khalil Shaheed and Ravi Abcarian, Dave Eshelman, Dann Zinn, Steve Parker, Michael Wirgler, Thom Kwaitkowski, his parents, grandparents and family friends.
Brian has traveled to Montreux, Umbria and Vienne Jazz Festivals in Europe with CSUEB. He has taught koto classes at UC Berkeley, and is an active composer. Brian performed at Yoshi’s Jazz Club with the Murasaki Ensemble, the CSUEB jazz ensembles, and with the Oaktown Jazz Workshop with Pete Escovedo. He has performed in concert with koto masters Kazue Sawai and Hikaru Sawai.
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