“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

“One Earth” by Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

Throughout my travels, I have been blessed with opportunities to meet many inspiring people from around the globe.
While I keep most of these conversations close to my heart, there is one quote in particular that I was reminded of during my time in China, which I’d like to share.

“Music and performing arts have the power to make the walls between us become a little bit lower. While it may only be a really little difference, it is a very significant difference.”

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

China has always been a country that was close yet far for me. Growing up internationally, making friends and meeting people of Chinese descent was nothing out of the ordinary. Chinese people make up the majority of inbound tourists in Japan, and I’ve always been surrounded by things that were “Made in China.” But the country itself? It has always been a great unknown for me. So I wondered…
Will people come to our concert?
Will they like it?
Are we going to be able to do this?

As we wrapped up our first performance in Guangzhou, I remember thinking, “What was I worried about?”

The applause and cheers that we received were as big as we’ve ever received. The audience was ecstatic.

It’s those moments that I think to myself that perhaps what we do has some meaning in this world after all. Maybe just a little bit, but maybe just enough.

My sincerest gratitude to the wonderful people who made this tour happen, and to the amazing audiences in China.

Xiexie!

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

Kodo members watching the instruments getting packed up for transport back to Japan.

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” China Tour

Schedule

 

“My First Tour” by Sunao Maehama

My First Tour

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

Nice to meet you, everyone. I’m Sunao Maehama, a Kodo junior member. Kodo’s “Evolution” tour in China is my very first tour.

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

Passing over Sado Island and Kodo Apprentice Centre on the way from Niigata to Shanghai.

Within a week of becoming a junior member earlier this year, I heard which performances I had been cast in for the year ahead. That was when I found out that my first international tour would be in China. I also learned I would be appearing in “Ake no Myojo,” a taiko, song, and dance number.

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

Rehearsing “Ake no Myojo” at Shanghai MISA

Each junior member is given distinct challenges. One of the challenges listed for me was expressing my femininity. One of the senior Kodo members told me that Ake no Myojo puts the spotlight on female performers and requires femininity.

In this piece, you move while carrying and playing a taiko drum. So if you don’t create a stable axis with your body, it doesn’t look good. You have to synchronize the timing of the loud and quiet tones of the drum with the movements of your body. It requires precision. I received all kinds of advice from the senior members, such as keeping my legs close together when I pivot.

Photo: Akiko Umegaki

Rehearsals before opening night in Shanghai

On opening night, I was really nervous but I gave it my all. I think left everything I’ve learned to date on the stage.

Photo: Akiko Umegaki

“Evolution” opening night in Shanghai

As I write this, so far I’ve only performed twice on this tour. Something I have noticed and constantly feel when I perform with Kodo is what it’s like when the sound you create resonates in the bodies and hearts of others.

I am still very new to the ensemble and I’m desperately trying to keep up with everyone. I’ll do my best at our Guangzhou and Beijing performances, too!

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” China Tour

Schedule

“Excited to Share ‘Michi’ with You!” by Yuichiro Funabashi

It’s April and in Japan that means the start of a new business and school year. I’m sure many of you have had a fresh start in a new environment this month.

We’ve recently finished our North America “Evolution” tour and Interactive Performances in Japan and returned to Sado Island. Right now, we are busy preparing for our upcoming tours and concerts this spring, as well as future works.

From May, we’re going to be touring with “Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Michi” throughout Japan for the rest of the year.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

It’s going to be a soul-stirring, invigorating two-hour program featuring Kodo standards such as Monochrome, Miyake, O-daiko, and Yatai-bayashi. As director, I’ve also included some of my favorite classics like The Hunted and HITOTSU, and we’ve created some brand new numbers, too!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

We’ve reworked and refined the content since last year, and we are already looking forward to seeing it evolve with each performance on tour.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The cast ranges from senior to junior Kodo members who all bring their own unique sound and energy to the stage. I really hope you’ll come along to see “Michi” at one of the many theaters on our tour to experience this rousing program firsthand.

Photo: Erika Ueda

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Michi” Japan Tour

Schedule

“The Excitement I Felt Back Then” by Kengo Watanabe

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Miyake is a very important piece to me. My life as a taiko player wouldn’t be the same without Miyake.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

It was watching Kodo play Miyake that made me want to join Kodo.

I first saw Miyake when I was a high school student. I watched the performers push themselves to their limits, brimming with masculine fighting spirit. I thought they were beyond cool!
I’ll never forget that sensation of trembling with excitement from deep within.

Now, I’ve been given the opportunity to play the center position in Miyake.

The excitement I felt way back then… I wonder if our audiences feel like it now.

I really want to give them that sense of excitement, so I will practice harder and harder. I’ll keep giving it my all.

Photo: Erika Ueda

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

 

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Michi” Japan Tour

Upcoming Performances

Kodo “Legacy” Now Available on DVD!

Photo: Erika Ueda

We hope you’ll add this performance to your home theater collection.

It’s a complete non-stop concert experience, all 94 minutes! So sit back and enjoy it as if you’re right there in the audience.

Released: May 24, 2019
Price: 4,860 yen (tax incl.)

See here for details.

Available now at Kodo Online Store in English and at Kodo performances in Japan.


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