March Message from Kodo Ensemble Leader Yuichiro Funabashi
Hello, everyone. This is Yuichiro Funabashi. I hope this message finds you all well.
Since late January, a young cast of 17 Kodo performers has been touring throughout Europe with “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Mystery.” The production gains shape and depth with each tour and there has been a great response in Europe to this performance.
I was here in Japan at the end of January and I took part in a collaboration in Kyushu with Yufuin Genryu Daiko called “Kodo × Genryu Daiko in Japan Taiko Premium Concert 2016 ‘Utsu.'” The members of Yufuin Genryu Daiko all have different jobs as their main occupation and they do their taiko training diligently around their work schedules. I learned so much from the sound they created and their passion. From the rehearsals right through to the after party, we had such an enjoyable, enriching time together. It was a wonderful concert which seamlessly featured professional and amateur taiko players together. Also, all four Kodo Distinguished members appeared in this performance, so it was a valuable experience for me to reaffirm their powerful presence and the importance of continuing to perform and hone your skills.
Then I went on a research trip to Hanoi in Vietnam for about a week in the middle of February. The population of rapidly-developing Vietnam is about to exceed 100 million people and I heard that the country’s current state resembles Japan’s rapid economic growth in the past. But with an average age of twenty-something, the most striking thing I noticed while I was in Vietnam was the people’s enthusiasm and youth.
On this trip we were searching for new ideas for our summer festival,”Earth Celebration” (EC), and we had so many wonderful encounters during our time in Vietnam. Their situation is complex due to the politics, economy, and history, and I’m sure many people have difficulties that we couldn’t see just by looking. But their pride and love for their performing arts was obvious. I was so deeply impressed by the musicians we met and the resolute way they live their lives. Before this trip I had never had the opportunity to encounter Vietnamese music and while it was a short stay, I was captivated by the diverse music and sounds of Vietnam, as well as the warm people we met there.
This summer, we hope to share some of this music with you at EC. We have almost decided on the guest artists to invite to Japan and the program that we will share with everyone at the festival. Kodo will share updates with you as they become available. I sincerely hope you will all join us so we can create a new-look EC together. Last year we welcomed Suar Agung from Indonesia to EC, and this year we look forward to hosting guests from another country in Asia. I am sure it will be a fruitful experience for all of us.
▲Unpacking & setting up at a theater in Brazil
This month, I went to Brazil with the “DADAN 2016” tour. I constantly feel grateful for the wonderful encounters I have in Japan and around the world through my activities with Kodo.
This month marked five years since the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake. While it may not be much, I do believe that as performers, as taiko players, we should all think carefully about what we can do to help, and put our hearts into it, as we continue our performances throughout Japan and worldwide.