Tag ‘Solo/Small-Group Projects’
Dec. 3, 2016
Taiko Fun in Los Angeles!
Hi, everyone! Today, I am reporting from Los Angeles, California.
I grew up in this sunny city up until I began working for Kodo, as one of the staff members who handles international projects.
I am currently back home to support the first portion of Yuta Sumiyoshi’s solo performances and workshops in the United States.
The United States have one of the largest taiko population outside of Japan, and the taiko culture that exists here is one of a kind.
Everyone who is affiliated with taiko is mostly connected through the taiko community, and we exchange new ideas and thoughts in full support of one another.
Today, I would like to talk about some of the American taiko culture that Yuta Sumiyoshi was able to experience during our time in Los Angeles.
The first thing we did after flying in was an intensive workshop at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute inside Asano Taiko USA.
Despite the fact that it was Thanksgiving weekend, we had a full house for Yuta’s 5-hour workshop!
We had a wide range of age and experience levels, and everyone had a fun, challenging time!
This was Yuta’s first time conducting a workshop in the U.S., and he was able to utilize his English skills that he’s been working on.
For this workshop, he taught on multi-drum set.
In America, shime taiko and okedo taiko are commonly used for a taiko set, but for this workshop, we used two drums with a closer tone to sing the rhythmic phrases, which may have led to some new discoveries for the participants.
And I also want to tell you all about collegiate taiko as well!
The number of collegiate taiko groups have increased throughout recent years and there are more than 15 collegiate taiko groups just in California.
The first ever collegiate group was formed in 1990 at my alma mater, UCLA, called Kyodo Taiko.
I believe that my current job at Kodo was made possible with what I gained through my collegiate taiko experience, and I was thrilled to be back to introduce one of our star performers, Yuta Sumiyoshi, for a workshop.
And of course the session was held in the parking structure of the university!
With so many active clubs on campus, it is always a challenge to find a good practice space that can accommodate the loud sound that the taiko makes.
Hearing the car alarms go off during the workshop reminded me of my college days practicing really hard all the time.
Many groups in the US plays on these taiko drums made out of wine barrels, beautifully refined for performance.
Not many collegiate taiko groups have the opportunity to learn from professionals in Japan, so I was excited to see everyone immersed in the workshop, and to hear them tell me, “That was the most fun I’ve had playing taiko in a very long time”.
Our time in Los Angeles will end with an exciting show which is already SOLD OUT!
On Ensemble is one of the most respected ensembles in the world, recognized for infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences from jazz and rock.
Joining On Ensemble is former Kodo performer Kaoru Watanabe from New York, to present new material from his album Néo, with Fumi Tanakadate, a multifaceted musician based in New York City, and our very own Yuta Sumiyoshi.
The complexity of the musical groove created by these musicians is like no other.
Several rehearsals have taken place so far in Los Angeles, and at last, the performance is tomorrow!
If you still want to check out what Yuta Sumiyoshi has been up to with his collaborations, he will also be in San Diego to guest appear in Kaoru Watanabe’s concert featuring his new album, Neo on December 5th!
Yuta Sumiyoshi Solo Projects in the USA (Nov.–Dec. 2016)
Chieko Kojima Appearance with TaikoProject in “Road to Kumano” (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
This month, Chieko Kojima will appear in “Road to Kumano” a collaborative work with TaikoProject in Los Angeles. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll come along!
Sep. 15 (Thu), 16 (Fri), 17 (Sat), 18 (Sun), 22 (Thu), 23 (Fri), 24 (Sat), 25 (Sun), 2016
David Henry Hwang Theater, East West Players, Los Angeles, California, USA
Doors Open: TBA
Dates & Start Times
Sep. 15 (Thu) 20:00
Sep. 16 (Fri) 20:00
Sep. 17 (Sat) 14:00 & 20:00
Sep. 18 (Sun) 14:00
Sep. 22 (Thu) 20:00
Sep. 23 (Fri) 20:00
Sep. 24 (Sat) 14:00 & 20:00
Sep. 25 (Sun) 14:00
Ticket Availability: Now on sale
Venue Website: http://www.eastwestplayers.org
Inquiries: TaikoProject http://taikoproject.com
Hello, everyone! How are you?
This year it is Kodo’s 35th anniversary. Over the years our company has broadened its activities to encompass a wide range of performances. Since the days of Sado no Kuni Ondekoza, I have been a dancer surrounded by taiko players. I think I was able to maintain this position within the group thanks to the feel-good surroundings here on Sado Island. Nothing compares to the pleasure I get from performing on Sado Island.
I have some news. Former Kodo member Tetsuro Naito, who composed iconic Kodo pieces such as “Shake,” “Nanafushi” and “Itsuka Mata” (until next time) while he was with our group, and former Kodo apprentice Tomoko Takeda, who plays bamboo flutes, now perform as a duo called “Tomoro.”
This weekend, they will return to Sado Island for performances from July 2 through 6. While Tetsuro was a member of Kodo, he captivated audiences with his unique world of sound and these performances also promise to be unique and dramatic.
One of the concerts has been organized by the people of Kita-Taura, the village where the Kodo Apprentice Centre was located back when Tetsuro was an apprentice.
Another performance will be held at a Japanese inn in Sawata called Urashima. It will be a dinner performance with a creative Sado-themed menu.
Then there will be two performances at Hiyoriyama, a cafe in Ogi that many people visited last year during EC for the Kiyohime photo exhibition. So we have a mini tour on Sado Island from North to South. I say “we” because I am going to join them and I will collaborate with them at every concert!
I am so excited to encounter the sound of Tomoro here on Sado again. After the performances on Sado, we will head to Joetsu for a Yukiai concert. We look forward to seeing you soon at these four special locations.
“Talk Saito” Returns June 17–19
Hello everyone! How are you?
It’s been hot for a while now in Japan, so I’m sorry to add to the heat with some piping-hot exciting news…
This month I will join Kazuaki Tomida in Tokyo for “Talk Saito 2016” at Tiara Koto Sho-Hall!
June 17 (Fri): Doors Open 18:30 / Start 19:00
June 18 (Sat): Doors Open 16:30 / Start 17:00
June 19 (Sun): Doors Open 14:30 / Start 15:00
The first “Talk Saito” performance was held in the fall of 2003.
It all started when former Kodo member Kazuaki Tomida said “I want to do something fun with you, Eiichi!” We exchanged ideas, then practiced and made our own special duo performance.
It evolved from then into the performances we gave in 2009 and then 2012. This month is our 4th season of “Talk Saito”! And perhaps it will be our grand finale?
This performance is a taiko-meets-comedy show but we are not mucking around. We are both extremely serious about being wholeheartedly foolish for around 2 hours straight.
Please come along and see us live on stage!
One of our alter egos will appear for a lively chat with the audience 15 mins. before each performance, so please come along early enough to take your seat before then. See you there!
Wadaiko Talk Saito 2016
June 17 (Fri), 18 (Sat), 19 (Sun), 2016 Tiara Koto Sho-Hall, Koto Ward, Tokyo
Nov. 24, 2015
Japan was getting ready for winter when we boarded the plane for Bali and the heat that greeted us here was way beyond what I had imagined. Our first performance is Negara went well and we have just arrived in Denpasar. The staff in Negara gave us such a warm welcome and I was so grateful everyday while we were there.
In Bali, my five senses are bustling with sensations I have never experienced before, but it is somehow nostalgic here and the nature and people remind me of Japan. The roots of our cultures feel very close even though they are somewhat different in form.
Suar Agung really set the Shiroyama Concerts on fire at Earth Celebration in August. It is hard to find the right words just yet to describe our first performance in Bali, but I can say that when their groove surrounded us on stage, we felt that they had turned the heat up even further…
We are counteracting their heat with a powerful freshness, like the wind on Sado Island, which we hope will resonate with Suar Agung and the audiences.
Nov. 23, 2015
Collaborations with Suar Agung in Bali
Kodo and Suar Agung have enjoyed exchange and collaborations together since 1984 in Japan and this year marks our first collaborations with them in Bali, Indonesia. Our performance in Negara, where Suar Agung is based, welcomed an audience of around 600 people. Many of them were local families and there were also Japanese people who live in Bali and from other islands in Indonesia.
The first half of the concert featured Suar Agung and Indonesian dance. Seeing the dancers dance down the stairs of the temple was so exotic! Some of the moves were humorous, too, so I enjoyed seeing their wide array of expressions.
Kodo performed in the second half and we also received a lot of cheers and applause. The audience in Bali hummed along to our music, smiled, and really showed us that they were enjoying our performance. Their obvious pleasure made the Kodo members smile so much on stage.
On Nov. 24 we have another performance in Denpasar. It will be over 30 degrees there. We will do our very best!
Nov. 22 (Mon) & 24 (Tue), 2015 “Project Connect Asia with Traditional Performing Arts” Kodo & Suar Agung Collaboration (Bali, Indonesia)
This year Echigo Oyashirazu Taiko, a local taiko group in Itoigawa, Niigata, is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Kodo was invited to join them for a special performance to commemorate their milestone year.
Around 50 people took part in the performance, ranging from elementary school children to adults. All of the performers took the stage for the finale to play a festive piece together. It was my first time to perform with other taiko groups and I offered them my sincere congratulations by performing from the bottom of my heart. The whole theater was filled with so many smiles and such loud applause.
The elementary school children, who belong to a group called Koshirazu Taiko, performed with all their might and the adults performed with such power. They all had such wonderful smiles. It was such a special occasion and I am so grateful that I got to take part in it. Thank you for having us, Echigo Oyashirazu Taiko! I wish you and Koshirazu Taiko all the best for your future activities!
Kodo Appearance at “2015 Taiko Festival in Oumi”
Oct. 11 (Sun), 2015 Oumi Sogo Bunka Kaikan Kirara Hall, Itoigawa, Niigata
Oct. 23, 2015
It’s a beautiful autumn day here on Sado Island! Today a group of us set off from Sado to head to Ehime where we will perform at the Ehime Prefecture Cultural Festival.
Sado’s toki (crested ibis) mascot Saddoki saw us off at the port. Saddoki is so cute with his round body and flapping wings.
Ehime, see you soon! We’re on our way!
Kodo Appearance at the 2015 Ehime Prefecture Cultural Festival
“Iwate Sanriku Chinkon Fukkosai” Festival
Sep. 13, 2015 | Miyako, Iwate
“Iwate Sanriku Chinkon Fukkosai” is an annual festival that began in 2013 to help recover the spirit of Sanriku’s festivals and local folk arts in the wake of the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake.
The backdrop for our taiko performance at the festival was the blue sea, white cliffs, and green pine trees. Jodogahama Beach is a famous scenic spot in the Sanriku Area. It may look like a peaceful place, but I heard that when the tsunami came after the 2011 Earthquake, it went up over these huge rocks and right over the rest-area buildings.
That was four and a half years ago. Even though the rubble has been tidied up, it has not been removed as they are still waiting for a designated place to take it. There were so many vacate sites throughout the town. As you’d expect, we saw so many scenes that you could only see by actually going to the disaster area, and honestly, it made me regret that my own sympathy for the recovery efforts had somewhat faded with time.
The audience watched our performance and applauded for us to the very end, despite the rain.
Thank you very much to everyone who came along!
We will continue to do what we can to help keep the plight of the disaster area from fading away.
Obon in the USA
This year I took part in some of the Obon festivities in the USA. I’d like to share some of my memories from that experience with you all.
Some years ago, I think it was in 2001, I gave a present to San Jose Taiko in California: the melody and song lyrics for their taiko piece, “Ei Ja Nai Ka.” Then, people started to dance to that song at Obon, and this year it was chosen as the official music for Obon in California. When I heard that people were going to dance to it all over the state, I got so excited and decided to head over to the USA to witness the spectacle firsthand.
On July 11 & 12, I took part in San Jose’s Obon festival, which I had heard was the largest in the USA with 1000 people joining the dance circle each year. The turnout was even beyond my expectations! Volunteers from a local Buddhist church set up stalls selling foods, sundries, fans, toys and all kinds of things, and they really made the festival lively! In Japanese-American society, the Obon Festival is a ceremony when you remember your ancestors, as well as a time to reaffirm your connection with your community. It’s the most important family event of the year for many people.
I sang surrounded by 1000 people dancing and it really filled me with strength. The call and response during the song was so powerful. It made me so happy and it was such an honor to join them all.
Many people came along wearing yukata (summer kimono) and some fun costumes also caught my eye. I was impressed right away by how international Obon is in America. The people there looked like they were all from different races, but despite appearances, apparently most of them have Japanese heritage.
The USA is a multicultural nation, and that’s why people have such a strong, deep awareness their own community. In Japan, people say we are “only Buddhist for funerals,” but people who go to Buddhist churches in the U.S. also have weddings there and it appears that their religion is more a part of their daily lives than it is in Japan.
On July 18, I took part in the Obon festival in Venice, Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it rained that day. They decided to cancel it, but then changed their minds saying, “We can’t possibly cancel a festival that commemorates our ancestors!”
Luckily their enthusiasm and all the dancing eventually drove the rain away.
Races continue to blend more and more in society as time goes by. And this event continues to be a special occasion for people with Japanese heritage to think about their existence and give thanks to their ancestors.
Next year, I would like to come back for the Obon festival held by Senshin Buddhist Temple in L.A. They don’t set up stalls or the like, they just dedicate their efforts to holding a memorial ceremony for their ancestors. I hope I can make it.