James Nyoraku Schlefer occupies a special place in [New York City’s] cultural life, composing and performing music that bridges Western and Japanese styles.
— The New Yorker

James Nyoraku 如楽 Schlefer has been playing the shakuhachi for 40 years. A native New Yorker, he first heard the instrument in 1979, while working towards his Master’s degree in musicology. This was at a musical soirée in New York’s famed Dakota building, hosted by one of the professors at the CUNY Graduate Center. There was a sankyoku ensemble of shakuhachi, koto and shamisen, and following the performance, Schlefer was offered the opportunity to play the bamboo flute. The effort was met with total failure and taking that as a mandate, he began his now four-decade long pursuit.

Schlefer received his Dai-Shi-Han (Grand Master) certificate in 2001, and in 2008, a Shi-Han certificate from Mujuan Dojo, in Kyoto. In Japan Schlefer studied with Yoshio Kurahashi, Reibo Aoki, Katsuya Yokoyama, and Kifu Mitsuhashi. His first teacher was Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin in New York. He is trained in the Kinko school following the lineage of Jin Nyodo.

Schlefer holds a Master’s degree in Western flute and musicology from Queens College, and currently teaches shakuhachi at Columbia University and music history courses at the City University of New York. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Tanglewood, BAM, the Metropolitan Museum, at colleges and universities throughout the US, and has toured in Japan, Malaysia, Brazil and counties in Europe.

In 2008 Schlefer co-founded Kyo-Shin-An Arts to further his enthusiasm of combining the sounds of Japanese and Western classical music traditions. Since that time KSA has commissioned dozens of new compositions, presented an annual series of concerts in New York, and partnered with classical ensembles throughout the US and in the UK.

Schlefer has four solo recordings, Wind Heart (1996) - which travelled 120,000,000 miles aboard the Space Station MIR - Solstice Spirit (1998), Flare Up (2002), and In The Moment (2008). His music has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and MPR’s Performance Today. Schlefer’s recording Spring Sounds, Spring Seas (2012) on MSR Classics, features his original music for shakuhachi and orchestra.

As a composer, Schlefer has written many pieces for Japanese instruments including two orchestral works, Shakuhachi Concerto and Concertante, and numerous chamber music pieces for traditional Japanese instruments, Western instruments, and combined ensembles.

Schlefer performs traditional and modern music with other Japanese instruments, including the shamisen and the koto. An exceptional solo artist, his appearances include lectures about the origin, history, and development of Japanese music. Schlefer has been a soloist in several orchestral settings including the Orchestra of the Sawn (UK) New York City Opera, River Oaks Orchestra, Sonos Chamber Orchestra, and in Karl Jenkins’ Requiem, among others. He has performed and lectured at Duke University (in two, week-long artist residencies), and at the Juilliard School, Manhattan and Eastman Schools of Music, Vassar, Haverford, Brown, Moravian, Colby, Colby-Sawyer, Williams and Hunter Colleges, and at music festivals in the US, South America, Asia and Europe.

Nyoraku Sensei is head of the Kyo Shin An shakuhachi dojo in New York City. Among the most active teachers in the US, Schlefer teaches sankyoku chamber music and the solo honkyoku music passed down from Jin Nyodo. He has written two etude books for shakuhachi technical development.

尺八 ジェームス如楽シュレファー ニューヨークを拠点に尺八奏者、作曲家として活躍するジェームス如楽シュレファーは、ニューヨーク・タイムス紙において、「尺八のマスター」と絶賛される。2001年、「大師範」の免状を取得。2008年、京都の無住庵道場から二つ目の師範の免状を授与される。ロニー如月セルディンに尺八の手ほどきを受け、以来、青木鈴慕、横山勝也、倉橋義雄、谷口嘉信、三橋貴風の各氏に師事。ニューヨーク市、クイーン ズ・カレッジにてフルートと音楽学の修士課程を修了。現在、コロンビア大学で尺八、そしてニューヨーク市立大学で音楽史の教鞭を取る。現在まで、カーネギー・ホール、リンカーン・センター、ケネディ・センター、タングルウッドの小澤ホール、BAM(ブルックリン・アカデミー・オブ・ミュージック)、メトロポリタン美術館を始め、ジュリアード音楽院、マンハッタン音楽学校、イーストマン音楽学校など、全米各地の大学で演奏活動を行う。これまで4枚のソロ・アルバムをリリース、NPR(ナショナル・パブリック・ラジオ)の「オール・シングス・コンシダード」で紹介される。尺八のソリストとして、ニューヨーク・シティー・オペラ・オーケストラ、英国ストラトフォードのオーケストラ・オブ・ザ・ スワン等と共演。北米、南米、アジア、ヨーロッパ各地の音楽祭等で演奏、ワークショップを行う。日本楽器の表記法に関する書籍、 及び尺八練習曲を二冊執筆・出版。作曲家として、弦楽四重奏団と尺八の為の五重奏曲、尺八協奏 曲等、和楽器の為の作品を数多く手がける。「虚心庵アーツ」創設者、代表。