Here comes the heat: Strings of Fire ready for blazin’ show | TheUnion.com
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Here comes the heat: Strings of Fire ready for blazin’ show

These strings will fire up the night as Motoshi Kosako and Ian Ethan return to Grass Valley to perform in concert.

Their debut performance was part of Ivan Najera’s Kaleidoscope concert in January and Guitar Extravaganza in March.

Motoshi Kosako began his musical training in Matsuyama City, Japan, on the piano and guitar. He established a reputation in Tokyo as a guitarist playing jazz. Swing Journal magazine described him as “one of the most remarkable young jazz musicians.” In 1997, Kosako moved to the United States and soon took up the harp. He is currently principal harpist for the Stockton Symphony Orchestra and the featuring soloist for 2009-2010 season.



In 2007 Kosako won second place in Lyon & Healy International Jazz & Pop Harp Competition and received the “Best of Sacramento” award from Sacramento Magazine as “Best Jazz Hound in Tie and Tail.” Since 2008 he has toured Japan giving performances and workshops gaining a reputation as one of the most influential jazz harpist in Japan.

In 2002 and 2003 Kosako released two classical harp albums, Celestial Harp I and Celestial Harp II. These were followed by Naked Wonder, featuring Bill Douglass (bass, bamboo flute) and Daryl Van Druff (drums). In 2010 he has released a solo recording, “Living Harp” and is currently recording a new album with Paul McCandless (oboe, English horn, soprano sax, bass clarinet).




Ian Ethan began a journey into uncharted territory when he picked up the seldom-seen 18-string double-neck guitar after leaving Berklee College of Music in 2005. While the instrument itself is rare, the way he plays it is unique. Drawing on a diverse musical background learning piano, drums, saxophone, electric guitar and bass beginning at the age of 5, his self-invented approach to the double-neck guitar is strikingly unconventional. He has developed nearly a dozen different playing techniques in an effort to address the full potential of an instrument.

Ethan also performs on the African kalimba. Though at first glance the diminutive 12-key “thumb piano” almost seems toy-like, its surprisingly rich and unforgettable tone serves as a refreshing alternative voice to the guitar in his live performances. At the same time, its connection to the rest of Ethan’s music becomes clear through the kalimba’s percussive and melodic nature and in the way that he uses a rare-but-not-unheard-of instrument in his own way to deliver original music. As one listener in California commented: “Ian’s music is phenomenal – watching him play is not ‘listening to music’ … it’s a full mind experience. Transporting.”


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