Christopher Yohmei Blasdel began the shakuhachi and studies of Japanese music in 1972 with Japan’s Living National Treasure Goro Yamaguchi and continued with the master until his death in 1999. In 1982, Blasdel received his MFA in ethnomusicology from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and was honored with the professional name “Yohmei” from Yamaguchi in 1984—the first of only two non-Japanese accredited by Yamaguchi. Presently, Blasdel performs around the world and has taught or lectured at such prestigious institutions as Earlham College (Indiana), Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand), Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas), University of Washington (Seattle), Charles University (Prague) and many others.
Believing above all in the necessity of balance in music and the connective threads that course through all the arts, Blasdel has mastered many genres, including traditional shakuhachi music, modern compositions, improvisation and cross-genre work with other musicians, dancers, poets and artists. His discography includes a selection of CDs featuring traditional, contemporary and experimental music. He has composed and performed music for NHK documentaries and various films.
Blasdel is the author of two major books: The Shakuhachi, A Manual for Learning. (Originally published in 1986 and re-published in 2008 by Printed Matter Press), the foremost English language book on the shakuhachi and The Single Tone – A Personal Journey Through Shakuhachi Music (Printed Matter Press, 2005 – originally published in Japanese as Shakuhachi Odessei by Kawade Publishers, 2000 and winner of the prestigious Rennyo Award for non-fiction), which details his experiences learning and playing the shakuhachi in Japan and around the world.
Blasdel co-organized the World Shakuhachi Festival ’98 held in Boulder, Colorado and was a member of the executive committee for the World Shakuhachi Festival, Sydney, 2008. He is the senior advisor to the yearly Prague Shakuhachi Festival. In July, 2004, he was one of the featured musicians at the Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival. Presently, he teaches Japanese music at Temple University in Tokyo and is the Artistic Director of the International House of Japan. He is also the Tokyo coordinator for the Hôgaku Program, Columbia University. Blasdel holds a third-degree black belt in Aikido.
Blasdel is available for concerts, lectures and demostrations of traditional or contemporary Japanese music for scholastic or general audiences. Solo or ensemble performances, consisting of some of Japan’s best musicians, can also be arranged. For further information please contact Christopher Yohmei Blasdel.