SHINJI ESHIMA, born in Berkeley, Graduate of Stanford University, the Juilliard School. Member of San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Opera Orchestras. Faculty at San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Francisco State University. His former students can be found in orchestras around the world, including San Francisco Symphony, Utah Symphony, London Philharmonia, Montreal Symphony and Covent Garden. His instrument is the Plumerel bass (1843) featured in the painting by Degas, The Orchestra of the Opera.

In 2011 the San Francisco Ballet commissioned him to compose a ballet for Yuri Possokhov. The result was RAkU, created for Yuan Yuan Tan. It has since toured the globe with San Francisco Ballet. It was recorded by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Martin West at the famed Skywalker recording studio and released on CD and iTunes. In 2014 RAkU joined the repertoire of The Joffrey Ballet. It returns to both companies in their 2015 seasons.

As a result of his collaboration with chanters in RAkU from the San Francisco Zen Center, he was commissioned to compose a new work for their 50th anniversary in 2012. The result was All’s Farrow composed for a new bell sculpted of bullets by the artist Al Farrow and choreographed by dancer Pascal Molat. This bell now resides in the center courtyard of the San Francisco Zen Center waiting to be struck on the day the last bullet is made in the world.

More recently, the San Francisco Ballet commissioned another score, again with Yuri Possokhov called Swimmer, which incorporates 4 recorded songs of Tom Waits. It premiered in April 2015 returned in the 2016 season. A special cocktail called the Swimmer was created at Jardinere restaurant by Andrea Campos in his honor.

In one year, 2016, the big three arts institutions in SF performed a piece of his. SF Opera opened the new Wilsey Center with the premiere of his Bourne to Shelley trio for tenor, horn and Steinway, Brian Thorsett, tenor, Kevin Rivard, horn, John Churchwell, piano. The piece is dedicated to David Gockley and feature the poetry of Scott Bourne and Percy Shelley with video by Kate Duhamel. The SF Ballet encored Swimmer, and SF Symphony premiered Bariolage, duo for violincello and double bass. Commissioned by Larry and Michéle Corash for Amos Yang, violoncello and Charles Chandler, double bass.

Currently, he is working on a new opera about the life of mezzo, Zheng Cao.

In 2011, the city of Berkeley, California named the day December 6th Shinji Eshima Day, in his honor for his contributions to the arts. 

He currently lives in Mill Valley with his wife, Balanchine repetiteur Sandy Jennings Eshima and their prized Meyer lemon tree.


  • Zheng Cao

  • Bourne to Shelley


    "While I am well acquainted with the talents of Shinji Eshima as an extraordinary double-bass player, I would like to sing his praises as a quite exceptional composer.

    I have had the privilege of hearing a number of his compositions, indeed, have had the honor of being privy to the very process of composition - the San Francisco Opera is giving serious thought to performing Shinji's remarkable compositions - he has a quite individual voice, a voice that I consider to be vital in our effort to encourage new audiences to embrace our art form, whether symphonic or operatic. Bravo Shinji - may your voice be given a chance to speak loud and clear to future generations of classical music lovers!"

    Donald Runnicles (former music director, SF Opera)

    Shinji Eshima - Composer