Press Article

This past weekend, we celebrated the great traditions of our dear “College on the Hill,” while proud alumni flooded Upper Valley hotels and invaded our frat parties.

In the spirit of Homecoming, I felt it only appropriate to acknowledge the accomplishments of one of Dartmouth’s artistic graduates.

While many have heard tell of the Dartmouth faces working in entertainment media — Rachel Dratch ’88, Mindy Kaling ’01, Phil Lord’ 97 and Chris Miller ’97 come to mind — some of Dartmouth’s musical alumni are less well known. Kojiro Umezaki ’93 is one such overlooked alum.

Umezaki is a renowned musician who has kept close ties with the College, where he received a degree in electroacoustic music. His instrument of choice is the shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute traditionally played to create ambience for Zen Buddhist mediation.

Umezaki has continued to support the College’s music department, returning as recently as February 2009 to give a concert and lead workshops.

Umezaki performs frequently with the Silk Road Ensemble, named for the ancient Chinese trade route and founded by Yo-Yo Ma with the aim of promoting multicultural and multidisciplinary artistic exchange.

Music professor Theodore Levin served as the ensemble’s first executive director.

In addition to performing, Umezaki is also a prolific composer, writing pieces for not only wind instruments, but also for string quartets and percussion.

In many of his compositions, Umezaki incorporates electronic aspects usually manufactured with a laptop computer. This extra layer accentuates the mystical ambience of the shakuhachi, as its tones mingle with the sound of falling leaves or running water.

So, even as you breathe a sigh of relief at being able to get on table in your own basement again following this weekend’s crowds, keep in mind that the alum on the table next to you might also be just one degree away from Yo-Yo Ma.



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