“Creative Renewal gave me a chance to live as musician again and I felt new hope, encouragement and spiritual revitalization.”
After attending a concert in Poland in 2016 and seeing the bayan (a style of accordion) for the first time, Miho Sasaki was inspired to combine the classical bayan with traditionally Western classical instruments to create avant-garde/ experimental compositions. Her fellowship included purchasing her very own bayan, weekly private lessons, 3 to 6 hours of practice, and extensive research on the classical instrument. Sasaki received her first accordion commission for the jazz bar Chatterbox to be performed during its themed night Accordion Day. She also composed 3 major pieces that married the bayan with Western classical instruments, such as the violin and cello: Spectra Despina, Operation IRONWOOD, and Tracing the Footprints: could’ve been somebody else.
Even though she faced the passing of her father and her husband’s surgery, Sasaki received positive energy from the musicians she met during her fellowship. She is confident that her studies of the bayan will help her expose the instrument
to other musicians and new learners. “Contemporary classical music is becoming ‘borderless’ as composers mix traditional instruments from all over the world with classical music ensembles,” she said. “My mission is to continue to compose and perform in concert to attract audiences. Eventually, I would like to see many more students studying the accordions and bayan to play contemporary music.”