Miya Masaoka (born Washington, DC, 1958) works simultaneously in the varied musical worlds of jazz, Western classical music, electronic music, traditional Japanese music, and free improvisation, and is currently the director of an ensemble of traditional Japanese court music, the San Francisco Gagaku Society. She has studied Japanese music with court musician Suenobu Togi, and holds music degrees from San Francisco State University and Mills College, where she received a Masters degree in composition, having studied with Alvin Curran.
Her debut recording for solo koto, Compositions/Improvisations, has received critical acclaim in Europe and the United States. She has performed solo and with a wide variety of musicians and traditions, including Pharoah Sanders, L. Subramaniam and the Global Symphony, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Steve Coleman, Tetsuhiro Daiku, Francis Wong, Mark Izu, George Lewis, and others.
Her investigations of improvisational and compositional forms encapsulate both the inward solo koto works, and have led her to forming her own orchestra, the Masaoka Orchestra. She and the orchestra have been commissioned by the San Francisco Art Commission and Zellerbach to perform a site-specific piece, What is the Difference Between Stripping and Playing the Violin? on Market Street in 1997, in collaboration with two dancers. This piece will illuminate the commodification of eroticism/the body and music in our society.