Micael Rooney, June McCormack & Music Generation Laois Harp Ensemble Japan Tour 2022


Michael Rooney, June McCormack & Music Generation Laois Harp Ensemble Japan Tour
The Irish master harpist Michael Rooney, the Irish flutist June McCormack and the Music Generation Laois Harp Ensemble will make their debut performance in Osaka, Nagoya and Yokohama in Japan. These concerts will be a feast of traditional Irish music, performed on Ireland’s national instrument, the Harp.
Michael Rooney is a prolific composer and is widely regarded as one of the foremost players of the traditional Irish harp. Music Generation is Ireland’s National Music Education Programme that transforms the lives of children and young people through access to high quality performance music education in their locality. The Music Generation Laois Harp Ensemble is directed by Siobhan Buckley and features 8 brilliant young harpers.
These concerts will feature a new suite of music composed by Michael for The Music Generation Laois Harp Ensemble entitled ‘The Spirit of Laois Suite’. In addition, the Irish musicians will collaborate with a Japanese student harp ensemble in Nagoya. They will also feature a collaboration with Japanese traditional musicians playing instruments such as the shakuhachi and koto in Tokyo. We are delighted to promote the international cultural relationship between Japanese and Irish young people through music.


Music Generation is Ireland’s National Music Education Programme that transforms the lives of children and young people through access to high quality performance music education in their locality.
Initiated by Music Network, Music Generation is co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills and Local Music Education Partnerships. Through partnership, they create rich and diverse ways for participants to engage in vocal and instrumental tuition delivered by skilled professional musicians, across all musical genres and styles.
Music Generation is now established in 11 areas of Ireland and is currently expanding into a further 9 areas by 2021.
Their aim is to provide access to music education to every young person in Ireland.

U2 Bono
“..everyone, whatever their background, gets access to music tuition. That’s the idea.” 


Irish traditional music began as an oral tradition, passed on from generation to generation by listening, learning by ear and without formally writing the tunes on paper. This is a practice that is still encouraged today and students of traditional music are encouraged to pick up tunes they hear from others or to learn as they listen.

The traditional music played by the Irish came to the country with the Celts 2,000 years ago. The Celts were influenced by music of the East and it’s believed that the traditional Irish harp may in fact have originated in Egypt.

All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil, which is the biggest Irish traditional music festival in the world, is held every year. More than 0.4 million people visit there every year. Irish traditional music is transmitted all over the world and keeps fascinating many people.

  • Instruments used in Irish traditional music

It is identical to the violin however it is played differently in styles and tones.

Irish flute

It is wooden flute and produces a pure, mellow sound.

Tin whistle

It is a simple six-holed, wood-wind instrument. It has a range of two octaves. The history dates back to the 12th century.

Irish harp

It is also called Celtic harp. It is a small wooden harp. Although traditionally, metal strings were used, now nylon and gut strings are used.

Uilleann Pipes

It is the Irish form of the bagpipes. The name means “pipes of the elbow” in Irish-language (Gaelic). It emerged in the first half of the 18th century in Ireland.


It is an Irish framed drum and ranges from 25 to 65cm in diameter. It is made from goats-skins, tacked to one side. 

*Other than the above, also common are the accordion or concertina, guitar, banjo, and bouzouki (a large mandolin) in Irish traditional music.

  • Tune styles in Irish traditional music
  • Single jig (12/8 time)
  • Double jig (6/8 time)
  • Reel (4/4 time)
  • Hornpipe (swing 4/4 time)
  • Slip jig (9/8 time)
  • Polkas (2/4 time)
  • Mazurkas or Waltzes (3/4 time)



Special guests
Riko Matsuoka (Celtic harp)

Born and raised in Japan, Riko immersed herself in Celtic harp from a young age. 
She recently graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with an MMus in Scottish Music.   
Riko is the winner of the 2018 Princess Margaret of the Isles Memorial Prize for Senior Clarsach, and she was awarded the Clan Currie Award for Clarsach in 2017.  
She plays Scottish and Irish traditional and modern tunes arranged in a contemporary style as well as her own original composition influenced by Japanese folk music.

Dai Komatsu (Fidle/Viola)

Dai studied traditional music from the well-known local fiddle player Pat O’Connor in country Clare, Ireland. After he came back to Japan, he has made huge effort to introduce Irish traditional music to Japanese audience. Some of his notable work include producing hugely succeeded ‘Irish Days 2012 -Life with Music-’ which was hosted by House of Culture in Nagakute, Aichi prefecture, performing the dedication music for the Ise-Shrine in 2013, and winning the judge’s award in Ceili Competition 2015 hosted by CCE Japan. He also performed the biggest stage of St. Patricks day in Tokyo in Yoyogi Park in 2018. This year 2019, he established Ode.inc, a company which produces music events and it has produced several outside events in various places. The company also was in charge of some important promotion of Rugby World Cup 2019. Not only active as a producer, Dai is also engaging exceedingly in performing Irish traditional music himself.

The Kinjo Gakuin Harp Ensemble

The Kinjo Gakuin Harp Ensemble was founded in 1975 by missionary M.I. Kelley, Mr. Eiji Kawai and Ms. Taeko Okajima and has become a pillar of Kinjo’s Christian education.  In the 44 years since then, the spirit in which it was created has been joyously passed down from member to member to the current generation.  Since 2014 we have welcomed graduate Yuriko Miyake as instructor/ coach.  We have been practicing hard under her watchful guidance.  At present there are 23 students in the Ensemble.  
Our major performances take place at school for the Freshman Entrance Ceremony, the Culture Festival, the Christmas Service, as well as outside school at churches and hospitals and local area events and festivals.  The Kinjo Gakuin Harp Ensemble remains one of only a few of its kind in all of Japan.

Kaori Ishimoto (Koto)

Kaori Ishimoto was born and raised in Tokyo. Under the tutelage of her aunt, Fukami Satomi, she started learning Koto at the age of 6 and then started learning Japanese vocal and Shamisen during high school. She graduated Tokyo University of the Arts with a specialization in Koto music. During this year she also had the honor of performing in front of the Japanese Emperor inside the Imperial Music Hall within the Japanese Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo. In 2016, she finished her Master’s Degree at the Tokyo University of the Arts. She is a member of the following groups: Miyagi Kai, Fukami Hougaku Kai, Mori no Kai, and Dousei Kai.

Hikaru Nakajima (Jushichigen)

Born in Miyagi, Japan. At the age of 6 started learning Koto. Then started Shamisen. In 2012, performed at a reception of the IMF World Bank’s annual meeting. In 2019 performed on one of the most popular TV program(NTV) in Japan as an Koto instructor. [Backgrounds and Awards]
2008 Graduated from NHK Japanese Music School. 2010-2014 Faculty of Music, Tokyo University of the Arts, bachelor’s degree. Won Ataka award while an undergraduate, 2017 Received Outstanding Performance Award at the 30th Rookie Performer Contest held by Ichikawa City Cultural Foundation. 2018 Received Encouragement Award at the 24th Japanese Hougaku Music Contest in Kumamoto commemorating Kengyo Nagatani. 2019 Received Outstanding Performance Award at 25th same contest above.

Tozan Hirano (Shakuhachi)
Born in Aichi, Japan. Learning shakuhachi with his father from middle school. Graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts with a major in Japanese traditional music. In 2014, he won the highest award in the “Advanced Performance Competition for Shakuhachi Performers”. He played “Matsuri” with Saburo Kitajima and SMAP on Fuji TV program “SMAP × SMAP”. He participated in the recordings of the in-the-play music for the films “Umi Suzume” and “Yasasadaru Man” as the accompaniment music group “Irodori”.


[ Organizers ]
Music Generation Japan Team, Music Generation Laois

[ Co-organizers ]
I.M. Co. Ltd., IMLiving Co. Ltd.

[ Sponsors ]
Suntory Holdings Limited, MIZUNO Corporation, Montbell Co., Ltd., Yasui Architects & Engineers, Inc., Inabata & Co., Ltd. 

[ Supporters ]
Embassy of Ireland, HARP LIFE, Kinjo Gakuin, EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee, Irish Network Japan, Ode Inc.

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