"I consider myself an investigative artist who explores ways of thinking about sound, ways of probing deeper into our relationships with the natural environment by charting interactions and extracting sonic information from objects, instruments and living things.Ultimately, my work seeks to instigate discovery and transformation within myself, the musicians I play with, and the listeners."

Composer, performer, sound artist and writer Miya Masaoka began her work as a kotoist studying traditional techniques and multiple styles of both Western and Japanese music; today she is a virtuosic experimental performer whose musical compositions and performance works pose questions about identity, the body, and the relationship between humans and the plant and animal kingdoms. In addition to creating solo, chamber, orchestral and choral compositions, Masaoka creates film, video, multi-channel and installation works that often employ advanced computer technology. An improviser working across new music, electronics, jazz and koto performance, she has collaborated with artists such as Andrew Cyrille, Toshiko Akiyoshi, L. Subramaniam, Fred Frith, and Pharoah Sanders. She has worked with Madagascar cockroaches, electrical signals from philodendrons and the bodies of naked men, and the sounds of swarming bees.

Born 1958, Washington, D.C.
Lives in San Francisco, San Diego, CA and Brooklyn, NY
1994 M.A., Music Composition, Mills College
1991 B.A., Music, San Francisco State University
2002- Professor of Music/Sound in the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College

2004 Inner Koto, a multi-channel installation for koto samples, processing. Engine 27, Harvestworks, New York
2003 Pieces for Plants, an installation for philodendron, electrodes, computer and audience interaction. Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, New York
2003 While I Was Walking, I Heard a Sound… for three a cappella choirs and 9 soloists, Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco
2001 Koto, a full-length ballet for koto, Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, New York, Dusseldorf, Germany, Venice Biennale 2004
2001 What is the Sound of Naked Men? for an eight piece ensemble performing with live brain waves from audience volunteers, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
2000 It Creeps Along, Bang on a Can Allstars. Miller Theater, New York
1996-00 Bee Project #1-5, for 3,000 live bees in an enclosed exhibit hive and spatialized software written for eight channels, projected video, koto. The Lab, San Francisco
1999 Music For Mouths, commissioned by ROVA Saxophone Quartet. San Francisco with additional performances in Tokyo, Japan
1997-99 Ritual, for Madagascar cockroaches, samples, nude performer, infra-red sensors, performers with chimes sitting in the audience, video projection. U2, Rotterdam, Holland, numerous tours to Europe, Canada
1998 Dark Passages, for string quartet, three Buddhist chanters, text by Thulani Davis, readers, (Japanese American internees, actors), film, video, slides. Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
1997 What is the Difference Between Stripping and Playing the Violin? for improvising orchestra and improvising conductor, text, electronics. Premiered on Market Street, San Francisco

2003 Illuminations, Miya Masaoka, Peter Kowald, Gino Robair; Rastascan Records
2000 Saturn’s Finger, Miya Masaoka, Fred Frith, Larry Ochs; Buzz Records
1999 Guerrila Mosaics, trio with John Butcher, Gino Robair; 182 Music
1998 The Usual Turmoil, Duets with Miya Masaoka, George Lewis; Music and Arts
1998 Monk’s Japanese Folk Song, Miya Masaoka Trio with Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille; Dizim
1997 What is the Difference Between Stripping and Playing the Violin? Masaoka conducts; Victo
1996 Crepuscular Music, Miya Masaoka, Gino Robair, Tom Nunn; Rastascan Records
1993 Compositions/Improvisations, solo CD with James Newton; Asian Improv

2004 Western Front and Kunst Radio Project, Canada and Austria
2003 Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Commissioning Award
2003 Wattis Residency, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
2002 San Francisco Arts Commission Award
2001 Headlands Center for the Arts Artist in Residence
2000 California Arts Council Composer’s Fellowship in Music/Composition
1999 People’s Commissioning Project Grant, Bang on a Can
1994 The First New Langton Arts Bay Area Music Award