“Abundant Autumn” by Tomohiro Mitome
Oct. 1. 2015
Hello everyone. I hope that you are all well.
This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo.
October has arrived and we are enjoying sunny days with a slight chill in the air. Some decades ago, there was snowy rain in October, but I think that due to global warming in recent years, the fall season on Sado has gotten somewhat longer.
Kodo held numerous performances throughout Japan this September with the “Eternity” and “Interactive Performances” touring from Hokkaido down to Shikoku, our “Special Performances” here on Sado Island, and an array of solo and small ensemble projects, too. Each of our two tours included special projects, collaborations, and workshops, so their days have been filled with all kinds of activities.
I took part in the “Kodo Special Performances on Sado Island,” centered around our Distinguished Members. This was the fourth year for this series. For the Autumn concerts, we had a cast of eight featuring veterans, junior members, and Maya Minowa for the first time. We gave seven performances over four days during Silver Week. The venue, Shukunegi Public Hall, was built 57 years ago and renovations have commenced this fall to strengthen it against earthquakes and restore it. We look forward to seeing the finished renewal next spring.
Photo: Damian Siqueiros
Dancers: Jerimy Rivera & Edi Blloshmi
The Interactive Performance team finished their Japan tour at the end of September and have returned to Sado to rehearse for their upcoming ballet collaboration in Montreal, “Kaguyahime.” Kodo also took part in this ballet with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal in Canada three years ago.
“Kaguyahime” is a ballet suite by the late Maki Ishii, who also composed Kodo’s signature pieces Monochrome and Dyu-ha. He wrote Kaguyahime for a ballet danced to Western percussion, Japanese court music, and wadaiko. For most of the performance, Kodo performs in the orchestra pit, but there are also some scenes where we perform on stage. The production includes a furious battle scene where the Western percussion and Japanese taiko go head to head.
Here on Sado Island, October is an action-packed month for the Kodo apprentices. On top of their usual training, they will give Interactive Performances at junior high schools on Sado, host live-in workshop Kodo Juku at the Apprentice Centre, and have the valuable experience of harvesting the persimmons, rice, and other crops they have been growing over the past months.
At the end of September, we held information sessions for prospective apprentices in Tokyo and Osaka. Some people know they want to join Kodo on stage, but they are anxious when faced with a two-year apprenticeship and wonder how they will find it training here. Of course, it’s easier to imagine if they visit the Centre before applying, but since it’s difficult for some people to come up to have a look around, we have started holding info sessions in these two main citiess in the last couple of years. Today, our applications opened for the 2016 intake. We look forward to greeting our new applicants as they step forward for this challenge of a lifetime.
In Japan, we say that autumn is the season for performing arts.
We hope to see you all soon at a Kodo performance somewhere.