“Temperature, Climate, Atmosphere” by Masayasu Maeda

These are things we experience every moment of our daily lives. Sometimes, the contrast or intensity will sharpen our awareness of the sensations. If there’s a sudden draft, when a door is opened on a cosy space, the felt experience of our surroundings is just as likely to be emotional along with physical. Our surroundings have altered and we register that change.

Having spent January in Sado ,without snow, I arrived in Russia where the relentless coldness of their winter weather threatened to penetrate to my bones. It was quite shocking.

Still, the rooms are warm, especially the air-conditioned hotel rooms. Places that are heated (or cooled) by convection: the moving and mixing of gases, particles and energy. An involuntary event that we harness and then benefit from.

During a Kodo performance, I feel something similar occurs.

 

Each audience member entering and sitting in the auditorium is carrying the energy of their daily life, each theatre building holding the energy of both its own unique history and locality. All things being a reflection of temperature, climate and atmosphere.

Then Kodo enters this space bearing our own dynamism.

On the stage are Taiko drums, made by Japanese craftsmen, performers dressed in traditional costumes. Across the stage is the curtain, a symbol of a boundary, but it will lift, like a door or window opening and then a new and unique atmosphere is created as all these different energies will interact and mingle.

Because, once the curtain rises “convection” occurs.

The various elements of energy within the theater begin to mix, and by the end of the performance, the atmosphere surrounding us all is neither distinctly national to the place of performance nor exclusively Kodo.

 

I witness this over and over, day performances, night performances, rainy days …

It is an experience that can only be felt by people who are present, it cannot be captured with photos and videos. Each sound is fresh and born in that very moment, as it is being felt by both performers and audience.

 

Today, you can enjoy everything on Youtube, Netflix and Spotify.

Even in such times, Kodo visits countries and tours. This involves moving insanely large drums and their stands, preparing each individual stage space with the necessary markings and then a daily tuning of the drums.

Every performance demands sweat. Each night we hand wash our costumes so they can be hung in our air conditioned hotel rooms to dry. Physical convection. This is life on the road. A cycle of preparation and movement and exchange.

Ready for the next performance, theatre or country.

 

Lithuania was Kodo’s 52nd country. Over nearly 40 years, this process has continued with 52 countries.

 

 

 

Where is Kodo performing next? (February 18, 2020)

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2020: Legacy” Europe Tour

 

Schedules

“My Two-Year Road to Redemption” by Yuta Kimura

February 1st, Moscow, Russia. The European tour is offically underway. In addition, I have reached a personal milestone. Allow me to elaborate (but not too much).

For the last European tour I was a junior member. I was inexperienced and I discovered that there are some aspects of life on the road, away from the performances, where I was completely clueless. So then, experience became my teacher and it was a very harsh one.

 

In a nutshell: I made mistakes. Small mistakes, big mistakes? (I hear you asking.) How do we judge these things? In this case, the actions were indeed small, yet, in terms of the level of humiliation I felt – it was huge. Therefore, I became determined to redeem myself, my reputation and self image.

I decided that I would focus and work really hard, so that when I next returned to Europe, my ‘errors’ would be behind me, firmly in the context of ‘an understandably naive action’. (It is actually quite funny on reflection, apologies that no details are being offered, at least not by me.)

 

It is strange and interesting how the low points in our lives can become turning points. Today I can look back on my younger self with forgiveness and gratitude.

It is the same voice of experience that can confidently say ‘this tour is going to be a completely joyous experience’.

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Kodo performing next? (February 6, 2020)

 

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2020: Legacy” Europe Tour

 

Schedules

“Thoughts Before Departure…” by Seita Saegusa

I am Seita, I have been with Kodo for 3 years.

This will be my third tour but my first to Europe. Our opening performance is in Moscow, Russia. So, for me, preparing to leave holds some familiar experiences and some fresh curiosity.

 

How will audiences respond to our reinterpretation of the Kodo classics in ‘Legacy’? Those signature pieces that Kodo has been performing for nearly half a century. But now, we are this troupe, here and now. What will remain the same as before and what will be different?

Intense preparation and practice is our lifestyle at Kodo Village—it becomes both our confidence and our pride. Therefore, Kodo’s legacy is instilled in our bodies and now we travel to share that gift with our audiences.

 

Yet, we are more than professional percussionists. We offer more than just the sound of drumming. We each offer our individual commitment and dedication to create the composite experience that is Kodo.

We do so with respect for the past and fresh ambition for the future.

 

My hope is that each member of each audience, at each performance, will leave with an imprint on their soul. An echo of the music that we have instilled in our bodies.

 

 

Where is Kodo performing today? (February 4, 2020)

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2020: Legacy” Europe Tour

Schedules

“Ready for ‘Michi’ on Sado Island tomorrow!” by Kenta Nakagome

It’s almost time for our hometown performance of “Kodo One Earth Tour 2019:  Michi,” here on Sado Island!

We spend most of our time on tour away from Sado. Every time I come back to the island, the beautiful nature and scenery, the food and people, they always clear away any fatigue I brought back from the road. This place resets me.
The longer I live on Sado, the stronger I feel a sense of this island nurturing all of us at Kodo.

Our current touring work takes a look back at Kodo classics and gives us an opportunity to reflect on who we are right now. The cast ranges from veterans to newcomers, so it’s a chance for audiences to discover the appeal of a wide range of generations within Kodo today.

I am grateful to everyone on Sado Island who constantly supports our activities. I’ll put my appreciation into each beat at our performance here.
I hope you’ll join us there on November 20!

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Michi”Nov. 20 (Wed), 2019 Sado Island, Niigata

“Shunpuu: The Beginning of Kodo One Earth Music” by Yuta Sumiyoshi

Shunpuu: The Beginning of Kodo One Earth Music

Shunpuu ya, toshi idakite, oka ni tatsu
A haiku by Kyoshi Takahama
(Translation: Spring wind, fighting spirit, standing thus on a hill)

Photo: Takashi OkamotoWhen I was a student, I happened upon this haiku and, for some reason or other, it stayed with me. I used the theme of this poem to compose “Shunpuu.” The haiku is filled with determination that gives the reader a sense of bravery, and even breeziness. I hope people feel powerful and invigorated when they play Shunpuu and when they hear it.

I’d like to take this opportunity to share a few of my thoughts about this new initiative, Kodo One Earth Music. In the taiko community right now, there seems to be a lot of people who learn from one master or teacher. So when it comes to playing a song that someone else created, they may feel a little reluctant for reasons other than performance rights. I hope sharing pieces that anyone is free to play helps remove those invisible barriers. When we perform other people’s compositions, we can experience different values. So little by little, if taiko players exchange their values and feelings, I believe this will lead to the future development of taiko music.

You can’t talk about taiko in terms of relative merit. Just because someone’s taiko playing is technically accomplished, that doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable. And not all musical taiko pieces or performances induce strong emotions. So as taiko players, what should we do? What should we learn and share through this unique instrument? I want us all to sense, think, and discuss that together while we enjoy playing taiko. I’ve put those hopes into this piece that I’ve shared with you all.

Kodo One Earth Music


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