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Kitaro a New Age pioneer

  • Kitaro, considered a pioneer of New Age music, is kicking off his worldwide tour with a full orchestra at the Green Music Center on February 14.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

It's difficult to describe the music of Kitaro, one of the leading architects of New Age music.

But you know it when you hear it: the Zen-like wail of a Japanese flute, the pitter-patter of percussion and the lush melodies played by a soaring synthesizer.

And if you've ever had a massage, you've probably blissed out to his exotic, Far Eastern soundscape.

"Each artist has their own sound, so I created my own sounds," said Kitaro, a native of Japan who has lived in Sebastopol since 2005. "The music is deep in nature."

Kitaro and his band will join the Santa Rosa Symphony at the Green Music Center on Feb. 14 to kick off his Symphonic World Tour 2014,with stops in Warsaw, Moscow, Bucharest and Istanbul, among other cities.

"We decided to have the first concert here," the 60-year-old musician said during an interview at Ragle Ranch Park's Peace Garden. "At each venue, we'll play with the local symphony."

The first half-hour of the concert will showcase Kitaro and his band performing works from his 1980 "Silk Road" album, which catapulted the artist onto the international stage. The music was composed for a documentary TV series produced by Japan's national broadcasting organization in the early 1980s.

For the rest of the concert, the band and the orchestra will perform arrangements of some of the pivotal works of Kitaro's 35-year career, including pieces from his "Kojiki" and "Heaven - Earth" albums. Conducting the orchestra will be Stephen Small, a classical pianist from New Zealand who orchestrated the parts.

Kitaro first worked with an orchestra while writing the Golden Globe-winning soundtrack to Oliver Stone's 1992 film, "Heaven - Earth."

"I liked the sound, because it was much bigger and very emotional," he said. "I love the strings."


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