Junko Ueda

 The epic story telling tradition of Heike Monogatari, as I believe, perfectly reflects our modern world with its dramatic episodes of universal human emotion and its Buddhistic idea of cause and effect and human life's impermanence. It is my sincere passion to perform this traditional music for a contemporary audience, sharing a space and time to discover an essence of humanity.
Junko Ueda
A musical performance of Junko Ueda extends Japanese ancient sound into modern times. Both the satsuma-biwa story-telling tradition as well as shomyo Buddhist chanting are unique musical treasures which have been passed on from generation to generation.

Junko Ueda (born in Tokyo, Japan) is Japanese singer and satsuma-biwa player, presenting Japanese traditional biwa music (story-telling) and shomyo Buddhist chanting. Also, she is specialized to perform the pieces of Japanese composer Tôru Takemitsu. Ueda studied satsuma-biwa with the famous Kinshi Tsuruta (Satsuma-Biwa Tsuruta-style) and Buddhist shomyo-chanting with Kôshin Ebihara (Tendai school). She studied piano and composition (under a.o. Reiko Arima, Jôji Yuasa, Sei Ikeno) at the Tokyo College of Music.

Since 1988, Ueda has based in Europe (Amsterdam/Holland and Granada/Spain) and has been presenting biwa story-telling solo concert and shomyo vocal workshop in numerous situations and at music festivals. Her traditional biwa CDs "Heike Monogatari" (CD650 VDE/AIMP Geneva) and "Satsuma Biwa" (ARN64577 Arion, Paris / Ethnomad, Geneva) received several prizes e.g. the Grand Prix du Disque, Academie Charles Cros, Paris and Choc Le Monde de la Musique, Paris.

Since 1995, Ueda has been presenting the shomyo Buddhist chanting workshop. In this workshop, participants enjoy singing the 1200 year old Shomyo melodies and seek the wisdom and power of the breath from this ancient tradition.
Junko Ueda
Contributing for new compositions and improvisation, Junko Ueda has been working with composers, e.g. Jean-Claude Eloy, Qu Xiaosong, Akemi Naito, Keiko Harada, Daryl Jamieson and performing with e.g. cellist Yo-Yo Ma, contrabassist Peter Kowald and Dutch Nieuw Ensemble. Since 1988 she has been presenting a duo performance with Dutch flutist Wil Offermans. This Duo Ueda Offermans has recorded the CD "How to Survive in Paradise" (CD732 VDE-Gallo Swiss) and has been touring world-wide (Europe, Asia, North and South America), performing own compositions and improvisations. She has been active as a producer for several inter-cultural projects including 12xHolland and Body & Soul Xperience Caravan.

Featured Video

Dan-no-Ura by Junko Ueda solo
Live recording of Junko Ueda performing Japanese traditional biwa music Dan-no-Ura at the Abbey Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul in Caunes Minervois (Aude) France on 3rd September 2011 as part of the '6th Festival Troubadoures chantent l'Art Roman'

Press Review

Junko Ueda, a master in musical silence... a musical beauty, which is not known in Europe... (West Deutsche Zeitung, Germany)
A voice full of mystery and solemnity, yet sensuality... performing her instrument with an amazing precision and variety... (Le Monde, France)
Breath taking beauty... her audience are caught within two seconds... (De Volkskrant, Holland)

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Junko Ueda flyer
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@ Music Festivals

  • 19th Festival de l'Imaginaire, Maison des Cultures du Monde, Paris, France
  • Copenhagen World Music Festival, Denmark
  • Festival Electr()cution, Brest, France
  • Academie Internationale d'Ete de Nice, France
  • Mantica Theatre Festival, Cesena, Italy
  • 17e Rencontres Internationales de Musique Médiévale du Thoronet, France
  • Festival Trob'Art, Troubadours du Monde, St. Michel de Grandmond, France
  • 8ème Festival International du Luth, Tétouan, Morocco
  • Festival Ethnomad, Geneva, Swiss
  • Voice Expeditions, Amsterdam, Holland
  • Festival Suoni dal Mondo, Bologna, Italy
  • Traditional and Sacred Music Heritage of Humanity, Yerevan, Armenia
  • Lute Festival, Rasa Utrecht, Holland
  • Singapore Festival of Arts, Singapore
  • New Music Festival, Middelburg, Holland
  • Musica Contemporanea, Bogota, Colombia
  • Musique Action, Nancy, France
  • Festival d'été de Quebéc, Canada
  • Why Note, Dijon, France
  • Sigma de Bordeaux, France
  • Musica Strasbourg, France
  • Warsaw Autumn, Poland
  • Festival d'Autumn, Paris, France
  • Oude Muziek Festival, Utrecht, Holland
  • Wratislavia Cantans, Wroclaw, Poland
  • Inventionen, Berliner Festival Neuer Musik, Germany
  • ISCM, World Music Days, Zurich, Swiss
  • Rheinisches Musikfest, Köln, Germany
  • Gaudeamus International Composers' Workshop, Amsterdam, Holland
  • Midem, Cannes, France