School of Music Hosts Guest Artist Shawn Head

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –– The School of Music will host internationally performed composer and shakuhachi player Shawn Head for a performance on Friday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Presser Hall’s Westbrook Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Head is a master performer on the shakuhachi, a bamboo flute which is one of Japan's most valued and traditional instruments. In addition to performing, Head is a gifted composer, using his talents to mix traditional Japanese music with Western compositional style.

The program for his Illinois Wesleyan performance will consist of two traditional Japanese pieces, three of his original compositions and a set of improvisations. In addition to shakuhachi, his compositions will feature piano and cello.

Four IWU musicians will perform with Head, including faculty pianists Coordinator of Accompanying Eva Ferguson and Adjunct Instructor and Accompanist Nancy Pounds, student cellist Kira Gurovich ’21, and Fern Rosetta Sherff Professor of Music David Vayo on piano, keyboard harmonica and synthesizer. Head will also lead a discussion for music students and faculty during his visit.

Head comes to IWU through a connection with Vayo, who composed a piece for Head on shakuhachi and cello at the end of 2018. Vayo was one of several composers to respond to an invitation Head sent asking if they’d be interested in writing compositions for shakuhachi.

“I've composed a number of pieces for traditional Chinese instruments, and last year for the first time composed for a Japanese instrument, so given my interest in East Asian instruments I was pleased when Shawn asked me to write something for him,” Vayo said.

For more information, please contact the School of Music at (309) 556-3061.

By Megan Baker ’21