Posts by Kodo Members
My Travels in the USA
Happy New Year, everyone!
Late last year I was traveling through the USA. In case you missed it, here is a link to a blog post by Kodo staff member Yui Kawamoto who accompanied me for the first leg of my trip: [Kodo Blog] “Taiko Fun in Los Angeles!” by Yui Kawamoto
Starting in Los Angeles, I traveled to San Diego, Las Vegas, Chicago, and New York, to lead workshops and take part in concerts.
Everywhere I went, I met so many different people. Taiko players and musicians, and people who are neither. Each community I encountered welcomed me and I enjoyed all kinds of exchange during my stay. Sometimes it was through sightseeing. Sometimes it was over a drink. Sometimes it was during a jam session. I was so well looked after by all the people I spent time with everywhere I went.
If I start writing about what I did in each place, well, that will turn into a very long story… (lol)
So, I would like to write about some of what I felt and the lessons I learned during my travels in the US.
I planned this trip based on my own desire to see what I could do alone, as one person. Until now, I have always relied on the support of others in various ways… musically, linguistically (lol).
So I wanted to stand on my own two feet and face all those challenges myself. As I set off on this trip, I thought of it like a journey to gain and hone skills.
Instead of creating sound with a group (in my case, Kodo), on this journey all that sound would come from me. I mean that physically speaking it would be just me playing and that I would be responsible for the sound I created when I played with others. I wanted to step up to each occasion as myself, Yuta Sumiyoshi from within the Kodo group, and not as “Kodo.” I would appear alone in jam sessions, naturally, but I would carry that intent into my ensemble performances and workshops, too.
On this trip, I had many opportunities to improvise during performances. I rediscovered the sensation you get when the sound you create ignites your fellow performer, right there and then. It reminded me that when I play with Kodo that we absolutely need to feel that sensation during our performances, the sense of creating stimulus as we perform.
That sensation of spurring each other on when you perform on stage.
Noticing how good it feels, and how intense it feels until you reach that point.
Wondering how to get there. Wondering what kind of flow you want to create.
And it’s not just me playing, so I consider what kind of sounds can I create amongst different musicians. What sound do I want to create?
It’s like having a conversation with sound instead of words. (My communication in English is also like that at times, lol)
Next… I’ll play this! And I’ll add a break… here!
This back and forth becomes music and the interaction creates one big flowing dialogue.
These new sensations were really eye-opening and taught me so, so much.
The workshops I led in each place I visited were also really invigorating experiences for me. My mindset was to convey as much as possible without relying on an interpreter! (lol)
I have written about this before (maybe not in English) but in a workshop you appear as your real self. You can’t fake anything and you can’t pretend to be something you’re not. When I stand before others in a workshop, I can convey what I am particular about when I play and what I keep in mind in general. Each workshop was full of lessons for me, in the same way I learned a lot through each performance. In workshops, questions fly about from different perspectives than I am used to with Japanese people. Some questions are sharp and to the point, others are broad. In many instances, the questions I was asked made me suddenly aware of my feelings and theories about all sorts of things!
I could keep on writing about so many things, but there is too much to say and I still haven’t figured out how to sum up what I experienced on this trip. For now, I’m going to let it sink in, bit by bit, and I am going to share more thoughts with you all once the words come to me.
I am truly grateful to everyone who I met during my travels around the USA in late 2016. I am already looking forward to seeing you all again soon!
Karuizawa Ohga Hall
On Saturday, we performed at Karuizawa Ohga Hall in Nagano Prefecture.
The hall is a pentagonal shape, which was apparently designed and calculated for the echo of sound inside. It is a wonderful venue.
The reverberations of our taiko were great, as was the weather in Karuizawa, so the combination of the location and day made for a really feel-good performance.
Tonight we have a performance in Iruma, Saitama.
2016 Japan Tour Schedule
Dec. 14 (Wed), 2016 Fukuoka Performance
Dec. 17 (Sat), 18 (Sun), 2016 Osaka Performances
Dec. 21 (Wed)–25 (Sun), 2016 Bunkyo Civic Hall, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
A Visit to Shiretoko Goko Lakes
I visited Shiretoko Goko Lakes the day before our “Spiral” performance in Abashiri, Hokkaido.
Surrounded by nature, the peace and quiet there felt so good.
Luckily, I didn’t encounter any bears!
“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” Performance Details
Recording Session for “Cross Transit”
Recently I was given the opportunity to take part in the recording of music for a contemporary dance production called “Cross Transit.” The music director Hiroaki Yokoyama came all the way to Sado for the recording with me! Mr. Yokoyama is such a talented person who has provided music to so many different artists.
These photos show our recording sessions at Kodo Village in the rehearsal hall. Most of the Kodo members are away on tour, so I was lucky to have the whole space to myself for this recording.
We layered my vocals to create depth, recorded my voice doing sound effects and animal sounds, and I spoke lines from a script. It was unlike any recording I have ever done before and it was… interesting! I look forward to seeing how it will turn out with the touch of Mr. Yokoyama’s magic.
Hiroaki Yokoyama, Sound Director (Profile courtesy of Cross Transit website)
He was born in Texas, U.S.A. and spent his childhood in the Netherlands.
During university, he toured with many artists as an assisting member and composed music for TV commercials, films, and animations.
He composes, arranges, and produces music for many artists including YUKI, MISIA, JUJU, Yuko Ando, and Kaera Kimura.
He has toured and played for Noriyuki Makihara, miwa, and Gen Hoshino on keyboard.
He currently is a member of Rendez-vous Band directed by Keiichi Sokabe and L.E.D.
The Interactive Performance Tour Begins!
This is my fifth year on stage with Kodo and my first time performing on the School Workshop & Interactive Performance tour. Our first performance was at a school in Shinjo, Yamagata, last week.
The atmosphere and dialect of the Tohoku region made me feel nostalgic for my hometown area, Akita Prefecture.
I will tour with this cast until December this year. I hope you will come along and see our performance. I think it has a unique sound and feel that only the seven of us could create!
Kodo Interactive Performances
Sep.–Nov. 2016 (Japan)
Sep. 1, 2016
“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” Tour Sets Off!
This morning, it felt like autumn weather had arrived as we set off on our Japan tour with “Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral,” given a farewell taiko serenade by some of the members remaining on Sado.
We look forward to seeing you all at theaters all over Japan soon!
Performances in Tama, Tokyo (Sep. 17 & 18)
Aug. 25, 2016
We are at Ogi Gym today rehearsing for the first Kodo appearance at EC 2016, which will be on the Fringe stage! We are going to give a super energetic performance to really liven things up, so please come along!
Photo: Ryoma Tsurumi
Rehearsals for “Kodo Village Concert”
We have returned to Sado Island after our Kodo 35th Anniversary Concerts at Suntory Hall and leapt straight into rehearsals at Kodo Village with the EC 2016 guest artists from Vietnam! We are collaborating to make new pieces together to perform at Kodo Village Concert on Aug. 26.
We are so curious about each other’s culture and music.
The current atmosphere in the Kodo Rehearsal Hall is both harmonious and electric!
We look forward to sharing this feel-good exchange and collaboration with you all soon at EC.
We are waiting for you all on Sado Island! See you soon!
Earth Celebration 2016
Aug. 26 (Fri)–28 (Sun), 2016
Sado Island, Niigata
Aug. 8, 2016
We are rehearsing for our new production, “Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral” at Kodo Village. The programme weaves both classic Kodo pieces and brand new pieces together. I think our audiences will really enjoy this performance.
One of my favorite pieces is “Yuyami,” which almost drifts through a dark landscape on stage.
I look forward to seeing you all at Suntory Hall for the premiere of “Spiral” on Aug. 19.
“Spiral” will tour throughout Japan from Sep. through Dec. this year, so I am also excited to share this programme all over Japan soon!
Kodo 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts
The next generation of Kodo will take a bold step forward into new frontiers with three mid-summer night concerts in Tokyo.
*Tickets on sale now for Aug. 18 & 19.
*Aug. 20 performance is SOLD OUT
*Commemorative Concert Sponsors: Suntory Beer Limited, Onkyo & Pioneer Innovations Corporation, POLA INC.
For ticket orders in English, call Ticket Space Tel. 03-3234-9999 (Mon–Sat 10:00–12:00, 13:00–18:00)
Aug. 18 (Thu) First Night ‒Deai‒ (Encounters)
Featuring: Kodo, New Japan Philharmonic
Conductor: Tatsuya Shimono
Aug. 19 (Fri) Second Night ‒Spiral‒
Director: Tamasaburo Bando
Aug. 20 (Sat) Third Night ‒Hisho‒ (Soaring) <<SOLD OUT>>
Director: Tamasaburo Bando
Featuring: Kodo with guest artists Blue Tokyo & Dazzle
Preview on YouTube https://youtu.be/