and Mission Statement
When the two different cultures
meet, a new form of art is born. Jazz was created when the
African rhythm met the European instruments. The French impressionists
such as Manet, Monet, Degas, Bonnard, Lautrec, Van Gogh, Gauguin,
Debussy, Proust were all fascinated by the Japanese paintings
and the influence was later called "Japonism." When
jazz met the Japanese music, the environment was prepared
for WaFoo to create a new form of art.
The prototype of the ensemble
was formed in 2001 by four Japanese Jazz musicians under the
concept of "Beauty of the music across the East and
the West." After years of labs and experimental performances,
the ensemble won the first grant, Performing Arts Awards,
from COAHSI (Council of Arts and Humanities for Staten Island)
in 2004 and performed for JuneFest 2004, which is officially
a birth of WaFoo. At the same time, the original concept of
the ensemble was evolved into WaFoo's mission statement.
"Providing a powerful weapon
to promote the mutual understanding between the East and the
West, by showing how beautiful and peaceful the music can
be when the two different elements are blended each other."
Traditional Japanese arts have
been introduced in the United States and its popularity is
increasing. Kabuki is played occasionally, Origami is becoming
very common, and so is sushi and flower arrangement. The modern
Japanese arts, however, have not gained much attention yet
because there are not many artists who are committed to perform
them. So, there is a call for WaFoo's artistic mission, "Neo-Japonism."
Composers of Contemporary Music
WaFoo is not only a music performance
group but also a group of active living composers to create
contemporary music. Each musician has profound understanding
of arts, culture, and humanities of our time. This helps the
ensemble create "contemporary Japanese music" in
lie of traditional Japanese music. All the repertoires are
originals or new interpretations of Japanese traditional folk
music made by the musicians of WaFoo.
Audience and Artistic Accomplishments
The music of WaFoo is for everyone.
It has been well-accepted and highly acclaimed by both critiques
and ordinary music fans. The following quotes suggest how
people loved WaFoo.
amalgam of jazz and Japanese traditional elements is very,
very easy to love."
- Michael Fressola, Arts Editor for Staten Island Advance
"People were in tears;
emails and phone messages have been pouring in....
Many, many people spoke about how deeply your performance
- Beth Gorrie, Producer of Staten Island OutLOUD's Hiroshima
2005 was the year of breakthrough for WaFoo both in production
and box-office. Some noteworthy performances among the regular
concerts and educational programs in local schools are; "WaFoo
Suite" a full concerto WaFoo composed and performed with
a symphony orchestra, "D and Dangerman" an off-Broadway
show that WaFoo produced as a composer and performer and the
collaboration of music and Japanese calligraphy.
WaFoo is very confident that today's people - whether they
are in the East or the West - would love our music, or even
need it, because what WaFoo is trying to present is not just
the sounds, but it's also the spirit of "Wa" which
translates peace and harmony.