A leading American koto performer in the traditional and jazz arenas, Reiko Obata studied under masters in the U.S. and Japan, including composer and koto virtuoso Shinichi Yuize. Reiko received her master’s degree in music from San Diego State University and daishihan (grandmaster) degree from the Seiha Conservatory of Japanese Music. She is founder and director of the Obata International Koto School, the first online distance learning koto school.
Obata has been featured as a soloist with multiple orchestras, including Orchestra Nova under the direction of Jung-Ho Pak for KPBS-TV. As a multi-genre performer, she has collaborated with such musicians as guitarists Jimmy Patton and Fred Benedetti, pianists David Ward-Steinman and Kamau Kenyatta, trumpeter Derek Cannon, flutist Demarre McGill, bassist Marshall Hawkins, drummers Russell Bizzett and Kevin Koch, shakuhachi virtuoso John Neptune, and jazz saxophonist Hollis Gentry.
She has performed at the Venetian and LINQ in Las Vegas, Warner Brothers Studio, California Center for the Arts, San Diego Convention Center, Petco Park, and the Temecula and Idyllwild Jazz Festivals. She was a featured performer at major events including the Kyoto Prize Symposium, World Baseball Classic Semifinals/Finals, America’s Cup, and National Flute Association Conventions.
Obata has performed for TV, radio, live theater, and film, including performing koto and bass koto on the international blockbuster film “Monkey King 2” (2016) with music producer Christopher Young. Other film music includes Byron Barth’s “The Art of Zen Shiatsu,” Vivian Price’s “Transnational Tradeswomen,” and Tales Alive’s “Chieko and the Pine.”
Reiko has recorded multiple CDs of her own compositions and arrangements, including “Serenity,” “Sound of Kiri,” and a self-titled jazz koto CD with her band East West. She produced the first English language koto instructional DVD “You Can Play Koto.” Obata also arranged and published the first all-Western notation koto book series. She also authored and published the first English-language koto reference book, “The Koto Player’s Reference Manual.” She is a former World Music and Music Appreciation college instructor.