5 W. Cache La Poudre St. (map)
Yoko Hiraoka is a senior master performer of Biwa, Koto, Shamisen, and Jiuta voice. She is a native of Kyoto, Japan, and studied classical and modern koto and shamisen music from an early age. She studied Chikuzen 5-string Biwa for many years with Koka Suga, the head of Komyoji-ryû Chikuzen Biwa and direct disciple of Yamazaki Kyokusui, the Living National Treasure.
Hiraoka weaves medieval storytelling with performed music and images in her lecture/recital on the history of the Biwa instrument and the "Tale of Heike." She talks about the origins of the Biwa tradition of sung stories, the instrument itself and the historical context in which the stories emerged.
The "Tale of Heike" is a collection of legends/events stemming from the 12th century conflicts between the two Japanese clans, the Heike and the Genji. The story excerpts are full of daring deeds, heroic warriors, tragic love, and the samurai code of Bushido (honor). Hiraoka's stage presentation is a powerful and engaging look into the early history of Japan.