Tag ‘Kenta Nakagome’
Earth Celebration 2015 Shiroyama Concert Rehearsals
In February, we had rehearsals at Kodo Village with Leonard Eto for Earth Celebration 2015. He was a member of Kodo from 1984–1992, but this was his first visit to Kodo Village since he left our group. Leo and our senior members Yoshikazu, Eiichi, Chieko and Motofumi, who had shared the stage for countless performances in the past, made a really feel-good mood in the rehearsal space and we all enjoyed creating sound together. I am excited to join them with my fellow new generation Kodo members to see what kind of sound and music will emerge from our rehearsal sessions between now and August.
We rehearsed with Leo for three days and nights, which reminded me how truly fun it is to create sound. We are going to work hard to make this festival an exciting highlight of the summer of ’15 on Sado Island.
Kodo Website | EC 2015 Details http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150821ec_en.html
EC 2015 Official Website (English) http://www.kodo.or.jp/ec/index_en.html
EC 2015 Official Facebook Page (English) https://www.facebook.com/EarthCelebration
Here are some pictures from our rehearsals prior to the Kodo Interactive Performance held in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, on March 7.
Many thanks to everyone who came to see our performance!
Kodo Interactive Performances Schedule
Dec. 17, 2014 School Workshop Performance at Yushima Elementary School, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
They were more energetic and docile than I had expected, which triggered something within me to play taiko freely and have fun with them.
I have recently started to sense from our audiences’ response that if we drum wholeheartedly and have fun ourselves, then the sound will resonate with people better than any tricky, technical arrangements.
School Workshop Performance Photo Gallery
Photos: Takashi Okamoto
School Workshop Performances http://www.kodo.or.jp/koryu/index_en.html
Things I Have Learned from Children
A year has passed since I started touring as a member of the “School Workshop Performance” tour cast. When I was a school student myself, I wanted to skip class as much as possible and I wished it was Sunday or the summer holidays every day of the year. When I think about it, it’s pretty strange that I have started going to school again.
Our performances are held as a part of each school’s curriculum for performing arts appreciation.
During our performance, we want to share the true sound of taiko drums, teach the kids about taiko as a musical instrument, and tell them all kinds of things. We interact with the students using our taiko, all up-close & within arm’s reach. This is the purpose of our School tour.
For about a year, I have traveled around many schools, playing taiko and spending time with my fellow cast members. It seems to me that while we want to say and convey different things to the children, we somehow end up receiving a lot more from them than we give.
I think children are wonderful beings.
When I see other Kodo members communicate with children, they have an indescribably calm and warm look. We are there to give a performance, but we are unusually relaxed. It seems like I can see each member’s true self appear at these performances.
As Kodo members, we always perform with pride and to the best of our abilities. We aim to deliver good sound and a good performance. We all have the same strong attitude towards our performances. However, most of the children have never heard of Kodo and some have never heard the sound of taiko before.
Although I do not know what the children are actually thinking, I feel that they have an instinctive insight into the real nature of each performer without considering the name of “Kodo” or our various titles and positions, like “professional performer” or “musician.”
They also judge whether our taiko performance is good or bad, interesting or not interesting, purely by instinct.
For School Workshop Performances, we perform in school gymnasiums.
So, the audience gets to listen to our taiko at a closer range than in a concert hall. If the sound is too loud, some children block their ears, and if the music is too monotonous, they start chatting. If the performance is good, they concentrate on our music and I sometimes see some children enjoyably swaying their bodies to the rhythm. For me, seeing that instant reaction from the children is very interesting and it makes me feel an air of tension, in a good way. I feel that children help us improve our own sensibilities when it comes to conveying the sound of taiko to an audience.
I used to just play taiko powerfully, with all my might. However, when I play taiko in front of children, my sound automatically becomes softer at times and stronger when I feel it needs to be. I now think about what sound will best reach the audience at each different moment.
As a member of the Kodo ensemble, I have always had in mind that I need to play taiko in a certain way or I need to act in a certain way. However, through our School Workshop Performances, I feel like I am now facing taiko anew.
I have been given a great opportunity to reflect on the sound that I create.
The right sound to play at each and every moment during our performance comes to us from amongst the children and within us, as we share that same space in time.
Keeping all of this in mind, I now enjoy going to school.
Dec. 14 Performance at Fire-Walking Event at Fukugonji Temple
We performed at this year’s Fire-Walking Event at Fukugonji Temple in Komaki, Aichi. Unfortunately, there was bad weather on the day of the performance, but the venue was lively from early on in the morning with performances by a variety of groups and stalls selling tasty fare.
This is the second time for Kodo to perform at this event, following on from last year. Before the event started, the temple priests briefed us on the origins of the ritual. I felt so honored to be able to perform at their event, which has been held for centuries. I was determined to do my best.
As evening drew nearer, the temperature went down steadily. A bell was sounded at 5 o’clock and we started our performance right there in the bell tower. They kept ringing the bell during our performance. The sound of our taiko echoed out nicely far and wide– perhaps that is because the tower was built so that the sound of the bell could be heard at every corner of the village?
After that, we performed on the main stage right in front of the spot where the fire-walking ritual took place. It was colder than I had expected… so cold that any of our skin not covered by clothing hurt intensely. Surprisingly, that painful chill actually cheered us on.
For O-daiko, Kenta Nakagome was playing on the front of the big drum and it looked like his back was giving off steam. You could tell from Yuta Sumiyoshi’s drumming on the back and Tetsumi Hanaoka’s chappa (cymbal) playing that they were getting into the spirit of it, too.
We started to play Yatai-bayashi as the fire was set alight. I think our performance sounded a little bit different in front of the firey blaze and smoke.
However, no matter how much heart we put into the performance, it was freezing cold! I did not feel cold during our performances, but I seemed to be shivering so much, and that caused a lot of muscle pain deep inside my body which hit me the next day.
This ritual tells of the horror of all-consuming fire, but at the same time, I learned the horror of the opposite: coldness. The power of nature is beyond our own. This experience made me reflect on the way I spend my time in winter: I realize that if you stay wrapped up too warm in winter, you become a weaker human being!
The “School Workshop Performance Tour” members are all doing well!
Before we set off on tour, the Workshop Performance cast worked together to make sasara (split bamboo rods) for a traditional deer dance called Shishi Odori, which is featured in LION on the upcoming tour. It took us two weeks to complete them, working between rehearsals and at night, too.
Left: The finished sasara. Right: We cut down bamboo, cut each length to size, split each rod into whisk-like slats, and took off the nodes.
Then we filed the bamboo and pasted pieces of Japanese paper on to them to complete them!
We are now using these props to perform “LION,” for the first time in ages on tour! We hope everyone will enjoy it!
Please come along to see one of our public performances listed below.
Kodo | Workshop Performances
During our tour, I made a detour to Kyoto to do some publicity for the upcoming Kodo Workshop Performance with the staff from our host venue, Shunjuza at Kyoto University of Art and Design.
Some members of the Kodo group are alumni of this university. I met the theater staff and felt their passion towards our performance. We have a special connection to this venue, which makes me very happy to perform there.
Please come along to watch the special Shunjuza version of our performance!
Dec. 7 (Sun), 2014 Kyoto Performing Arts Center Shunjuza, Kyoto City
Kyoto Performing Arts Center Shunjuza Official Website (In Japanese)
Rehearsals for the new-look “Workshop Performances,” on the road from late November, have just started. This programme is directed by Eri Uchida and performed by a newly assembled cast. It has a whole new feel, too!
I will play the o-daiko (big drum) on this tour. I am already so excited!
Now that I have gained stage and performing experience, I feel like I can do a variety of things, but when I approach the o-daiko, I want to forget everything and feel brand new each time. As I beat the drum, I just let myself go rather than trying to express myself.
I asked Yoshikazu, “How can you play the o-daiko just by improvisation, without deciding any of the phrases you will play?” and he replied, “I go into the sound that I create.” His words really stayed with me. Now, I play as I feel, encouraged by my own sound. Since he said that to me, I find that the more I play the o-daiko, the more I feel like I can get into the sound and the taiko itself.
The reverberations from the taiko wash over me as I drum and evoke all kinds of feelings, which I want to experience fully, one by one.
Kodo | Workshop Performances
- Dec. 7 (Sun), 2014 Kyoto Performing Arts Center Shunjuza, Kyoto City
- Dec. 20 (Sat), 2014 Kunitachi Geijutsu Sho-Hall, Kunitachi, Tokyo
The tour finale for the fall Workshop Performance Tour was on Miyakojima, an island in Okinawa.
It was our first performance there in 12 years, which meant it was the first visit there for most of the cast on this tour.
We had the opportunity to meet people who have been cheering on Kodo since the ensemble first came to Miyako Island in the eighties.
I know Sado is also an island far from mainland Japan… but I was so happy to see people on this far-away island who were so passionate about our group. I played taiko for them, already hoping for the chance to come back here again.
The beautiful sea around Miyakojima was breathtaking!
Our long tour had clocked up twice the length of Japan in mileage. When we got to Miyakojima, everyone we met was so kind, so it was such a feel-good place for us to conclude our performances.
We have added pages to our Photo Gallery for performers Masayuki Sakamoto, Kenta Nakagome, and Tsuyoshi Maeda. Please click on the photos below to visit each Gallery page.