“June 20: Apprentice Group Training Session with Kodo” by Eri Uchida

Photo: Mariko Sumiyoshi

Today the Kodo apprentices came to Kodo Village for their mid-year recital and a group training session.

Photo: Mariko SumiyoshiThe training session is a valuable time where they receive training by the Kodo members who stand centerstage in our ensemble’s touring productions.

The apprentices heard the words, “I know you want to do it, but you can’t do anything with that feeling alone.”

It all comes back to practicing the fundamentals, after all. It’s all about creating sound with clean, solid strokes.

The apprentices have more eyes on them than usual during this session, but they don’t lose focus for even a second as they take in the detailed instruction.

The apprentices hope to stand on stage as members of Kodo one day. The words the Kodo members impart with the young hopefuls during these sessions are specific, simple, and carry significant weight.

Photo: Mariko Sumiyoshi

Deliberate, repeated practice is what creates that sound, that performance.

Today’s group training session was a fruitful time for the apprentices, who now have a clearer picture of their common goal: creating sound that truly reaches the audience.

 

About the Kodo Apprentice Centre

[Applications Open Soon for 2019 Intake!] Application Period: July 6 (Fri)–Nov. 9 (Fri), 2018

Application Procedure: https://www.kodo.or.jp/en/apr_en/research_students

“Where Kodo’s Sound Begins” by Eri Uchida

We currently have seventeen Kodo apprentices after welcoming a group of new entrants to Kodo Apprentice Centre at the beginning of April. The first day of training for the new first years was making and shaping bachi (taiko drumsticks).

Photo: Eri Uchida

Under Tomohiro Mitome’s instruction, they learn why they make their own bachi, and the step-by-step process of bachi making, from how to choose the wood to whittling the wood into shape. The things they learn are packed with the wisdom that Mitome has gained from his own experience of trial and error making bachi to date with his own two hands.

“When you make bachi, you are crafting your sound”

The local carpenter who joined the lesson to teach them how to sharpen their planes said,
“If your equipment works well, you can do your job well.”

Those words are painfully true, I thought.

Photo: Eri Uchida

Bachi making is not a skill we can master in one day, no matter how clearly we are taught.

Life gets busier as the days go by at Kodo Apprentice Centre. I wonder how much time they can make for themselves to practice what they are being told and embody those lessons.

Photos: Eri UchidaThe roots. The fundamentals. The essence of things.
That is what we all learn at the Apprentice Centre.
It reminded me that I mustn’t forget these foundations, regardless of the experience I gain traveling the world and appearing on stage.

 

About the Kodo Apprentice Centre

“Back in Magnificent Rome After Nine Years” by Eri Uchida

Mar. 10, 2018
Photo: Eri Uchida

As soon as I exited the train station, the sheer sight of this enormous structure made me tremble.
This is the Colosseum, which is estimated to hold some 70,000 spectators.

Photo: Eri Uchida
I wonder how on earth people made something like this by hand 2000 years ago, in a time without electricity or machinery. Visiting this structure, I couldn’t help but be amazed by human intelligence, strength, desire, and persistence.
Every detail was so elaborate and dynamic, from the entrance trapdoors that added interest to the spectacle, to the corridors devised throughout that let the spectators smoothly enter and exit.

Photo: Eri UchidaFights were held here, where people or animals battled to the death. I heard that people in those days were really enthusiastic about the fights, which made me wonder about people today. Are we fundamentally different from people back then? It’s a bit scary to think about that.

For me, it was my first visit to Rome since 2009 when I was on my first tour with Kodo, a summer European festival tour. Although I spent a week in Rome then, due to my terrible hay fever and all my first tour nerves, I only ventured out once for sightseeing to visit the Vatican City. Nevertheless, I have profound memories of that visit to Rome such as our rehearsals with A Filetta for EC 2010 and the performances of “Mono-Prism” with Santa Cecilia Symphony Orchestra.

Photo: Eri Uchida
I remembered that back in 2009 I thought this hall looked unbelievably gigantic. I recall feeling proud as I watched the Kodo members selected to play Mono-Prism, but at the same time I felt frightened about appearing on that stage myself.

Photo: Eri Uchida

This time, I sat in the empty audience seats while we were setting up and looked at the stage. It seemed much smaller than last time and that felt strange.

However, when our performance began, the full house was filled with energy and it absorbed our sound, so the furtherest seats felt very far away during the performance.

Photo: Eri UchidaIn this huge arena, every member of our cast did their very best. We received a standing ovation at the end of the performance, a sign that the audience was pleased by our efforts.
We had all spent our day off before the performance sightseeing all over Rome, and it was as if the inspiration of what we had seen turned into powerful energy on stage. I’m already looking forward to the day I can return to Rome and its colossal structures.
Next, we are off to Milan for two performances back to back!

 

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2018: Evolution” Europe Tour

 

“We’ve Arrived in Brighton!” by Eri Uchida

We have arrived in Brighton, UK, where we will give the first performance of “Kodo One Earth Tour 2018: Evolution”on our European tour.

Photo: Eri Uchida
Brighton is a port town in the south-east of the UK. It looks out to sea just like Sado Island, but unlike the fierce winter on Sado, this town has a calm shoreline thanks to the warm currents of the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo: Eri Uchida

The shops in Brighton aren’t large chain stores. The streets are filled with unique restaurants, variety stores, clothing shops, and antique dealers. I even saw a bonsai shop!

Photo: Eri UchidaThe shops have colorful pictures painted on their walls and the whole town has an artistic vibe. It was exciting just strolling around Brighton.

Photo: Eri UchidaAt night, the town is lit by warm street lamps, which are spaced out along the streets. The brick buildings make the town look so picturesque.

I saw a picture framer’s that had a sign reading:
“Let’s make this town full of artists.”
Perhaps it’s each person’s mindset that makes this town feel exciting to me.

Photo: Eri Uchida

I’ll looking forward to an exciting two-month tour!

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2018: Evolution” Europe Tour
https://www.kodo.or.jp/en/performance_en/performance_kodo_en/4522

Schedules

“The School Workshop-Performance Tour, Working Hard in Niigata” by Eri Uchida

On Friday June 16, I went to see the School Workshop-Performance tour in Niigata City where they are currently visiting elementary schools. Kodo gives regular performances at the many schools there.

I went to see our tour at an elementary school that is 10km from Niigata Station. I decided to rent a bicycle to go there. I don’t know what I was thinking… it was further than I thought. I should have known it would be tough on a bike with a basket and no gears. On the way back, I took the easy route by getting a lift back in the Kodo truck. (lol)

 

Ask any young person who went to school in Niigata City if they have seen Kodo and most of them will say that they have, at least once. That is largely thanks to Kodo’s Eiichi Saito and Kazuki Imagai and their efforts since our School Workshop-Performances began some twenty years ago. To visit all the schools in the city requires a morning and afternoon performance each day, at different schools each day. That means fitting ten performances into five days each week. With such a tight schedule, it’s important that everyone is as organized as possible to ensure smooth, good performances. To make sure that not even a minute is wasted, the preparation for the tour includes detailed meetings about loading in and out of each venue and then the cast and crew carry out simulations of how each day and situation will go.

On Friday afternoon, the end of the school week! The kids were so lively!

The School Workshop-Performance requires a lot of stamina, so the physical power of young Kodo members is essential for this tour. Currently there are three junior members on the tour and every day they are giving it their all. They have been on the road for one month now and since I last saw them at a run-through rehearsal on Sado, the young members have all grown in leaps and bounds. Every day as I learn I am reminded that the more you grow, the more you realize exactly what you still lack. The junior members still receive a lot of critiques from the senior members, and I’m sure they are being stretched to their limits. But now that I am a bit more senior myself, I can see that they are growing more than they may think. The senior members know if they praise the junior members too much they won’t improve, so they make sure they don’t give them too much praise. (LOL)
During my visit, I saw my fellow Kodo members all working diligently to better themselves and the performance. Regardless of seniority, they all worry, suffer, work hard, and enjoy themselves. I think they are all really valuable to Kodo.
Keep up that spirit, School Workshop-Performance team! Do your best!

The children flocked to the cast members after the performance for autographs. I hope they will come to see Kodo perform when they grow up, too. We’ll be waiting for you!


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