Musco Center for the Arts presents Kishi Bashi String Quartet Live!

Singer-songwriter, composer, violinist, and loop pedal-wielding artist Kishi Bashi makes his Musco Center debut on February 28, 2019 at 7:30pm. Backed by the harmonious energy of a string quartet, Kishi Bashi (Kaoro Ishibashi) reimagines the sonic worlds of everything from Dvořák’s American String Quartet to his own songs reminiscent of contemporary indie pop to Japanese folk songs to Talking Heads covers. Kishi Bashi’s Japanese-American heritage plays a central role in his music as he grapples with the realities of the immigrant experience and the complex histories written into his DNA.

His latest project featured a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $100,000 to tell the story of World War II Japanese internment sites along the West Coast. In Omioyari: a Songfilm by Kishi Bashi, he contends with his own identity as a Japanese-American and “breaks down the barrier between composer and filmmaker, pioneering a new ambitious form of artistic expression” (Indiegogo).

The night prior, on February 27, Musco Center hosts a special public event with Mr. Ishibashi as part of the Musco Master Class Program. During the conversation, Kishi Bashi will talk about the filming of Omoiyari and his personal quest to create music in locations relevant to Japanese-American citizen incarceration in what was euphemistically called relocation centers.

Kishi Bashi is a frequent collaborator with the who’s who of indie music, including Regina Spektor and Alexi Murdoch, and was a member of indie rock band of Montreal. He also founded electronic rock group Jupiter One before setting off as a solo artist. In 2012, NPR Music named him “Best New Artist.”

His first full-length, 151a was released in 2012 and was followed up by 2014’s Lighght and Sonderlust in 2016. It was 2015’s String Quartet Live! that launched Kishi Bashi into orchestral collaborative performance with the support of two violins, viola, and cello. In June 2018, Ben Folds presented Kishi Bashi at Kennedy Center accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra as part of the DECLASSIFIED series.

Born in Seattle and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, Kishi Bashi graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied composition for film. He is now based in Athens, Georgia, and has found success with songs and scores used in television, movies, and commercials for Microsoft and Sony.

“When I first saw Kishi Bashi at a showcase at Joe’s Pub in New York City, I saw the audience singing along to these beautiful melodies, some new and some old. I was instantly enamored with his passion, his knowledge, and his story,” said Richard T. Bryant, executive director of Musco Center. “He draws from a deep well of inspiration: his training, his family, our shared histories.”

In the Wall Street Journal’s review of String Quartet Live!, critic Jim Fusilli wrote “that new environment confirmed the integrity of Mr. Ishibashi’s compositions and validated the frequent comparisons to Andrew Bird and Owen Pallett, classically trained violinists who move readily between musical styles.”

Musco Master Class Program offers professional mentorship to Chapman University students.

A second Musco Master Class, held during the day of the performance, will give Chapman University students the opportunity to learn directly from Kishi Bashi. While in residence, he will work with students to develop their composing process while introducing technology. Students have an opportunity to witness the developed ear of a professional musician up close.

“It is an honor for our students to explore music and composition with such a gifted artist as Kishi Bashi,” said William D. Hall, Professor, Founding Dean, and Artistic Director, Musco Center for the Arts. “Each mentor that comes to the University from the Musco Master Class Program brings their own insight and experience. They share so generously, which inspires our students to achieve at a higher level. Kishi Bashi is a great example for emerging artists because he fuses traditional arranging and composing with live performance and multimedia experiences.”

Tickets for February 28 are on sale now for $25-45 and may be purchased through the Musco Center online at or by calling the box office at 844-OC-MUSCO (844-626-8726). All print-at-home tickets include a no-cost parking pass. Musco Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Chapman University at 415 North Glassell, Orange, Calif.

This article was released by the Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University.