There's a lot of talent on the RHS class of '69. One we are proud to acknowledge is Riley Lee.
Riley is a shakuhachi master (dai shihan) and teacher...world renown in what he does.
Before you say, oh, that's just a flute - it's not "just" a flute.
The Talented Mr. Lee
It was originally introduced from China into Japan in the 6th century where it evolved over time into something distinct.
Masters of the shakuhachi can produce virtually any pitch they wish from the instrument, and play a wide range of music from Zen to folk, jazz, and other modern pieces.
The shakuhachi is amazingly difficult to master, taking years of study and work.
Look what Riley did last last year when he performed with Island Breeze at the Shingon Shu Hawaii Temple.
Pretty good for a guy that started out playing bass in a rock and roll band at the age of 13.
While at RHS he first heard the shakuhachi on an LP record. About the same time, his father gave him a dongxiao, a Chinese bamboo flute whose ancestry is shared with the shakuhachi, and taught him an old Chinese folksong on it. That's really all it took.
After graduation Riley went to Japan and began his shakuhachi studies and lived there full-time until 1977.
Riley was the first non-Japanese person to become a shakuhachi master.
He's made over 50 recordings internationally, and performed all over the world.
Riley comes to Honolulu frequently. Two years ago he performed at the Blue Note and, of course, we were there.