Happy New Year

New Year’s Greeting from Kodo Ensemble Leader
Yuichiro Funabashi

Another new year has begun.
As 2019 starts, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your warm support that enabled our wide range of fulfilling work over the past twelve months.

We kicked off 2018 with the “Evolution” Europe Tour, then visited our 50th country to date: Egypt. In Japan, Kodo toured nationwide with “Michi,” performed at NHK Hall in a new collaboration with vocaloid Hatsune Miku, and fired up the main stage on Day 3 of Fuji Rock Festival ’18.

One of the year’s highlights was performing live music for new Kabuki work “Yugen” starring Tamasaburo Bando at Tokyo’s iconic Kabukiza Theatre. This month-long experience was a precious opportunity for us all.

2018 also marked a noticeable shift towards younger Kodo performers taking the creative reigns. We saw the directorial debut of Yuta Sumiyoshi with “MEGURU,” which premiered in November. Its inaugural tour in Japan ended on a high note with five days of concerts in Tokyo at Bunkyo Civic Hall. “Kodo Next Generation,” directed by Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga, ventured abroad for the first time for a summer series at Theatre du Soleil in Paris, France. Back at home, new School Workshop Performance and Kodo Interactive Performance programmes directed by Jun Jidai delighted school children and general audiences nationwide. These new directors from within the Kodo ensemble showed us dynamic power and their own unique flair, leaving us with a sense of Kodo’s future in their capable hands.

At the end of 2018, we all came together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kodo’s Yoshikazu Fujimoto’s taiko performance career with commemorative concert “Taiko Warabe Gojunen.” I was deeply moved on this special occasion, where I am sure we all felt the magnitude of Yoshikazu’s history firsthand, reinforced by guest performances by Iwasaki Onikenbai and Wachi Daiko Hozonkai that reminded us of the power and splendor of performing arts.

In 2019, we plan to enrich not only our performance activities but also to pour more energy into workshops. We’re also going to be creating and sharing new music and focusing on fostering broader, deeper activities that bring our group closer to our audiences. We are working on new initiatives that we hope will bring even more people to theaters to enjoy taiko with Kodo.

Kodo remains dedicated to our dear home of Sado Island, one of the reasons we are passionate about our annual, deep-rooted local events Earth Celebration and the Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi. I hope we can expand our activities on Sado to include more tour productions, school performances, and workshops. We always craft sound and rehearse at Kodo Village before setting off on tour: Sado Island is where each journey starts for Kodo. This year I want us all to hold a renewed awareness of that fact.

Of course, you could say the real starting point for each Kodo performer is our apprentice Centre on Sado. It’s an precious environment where each individual has their eye on one main goal, training alongside their comrades, living an intense, communal lifestyle. This year, I want us each to think about our time at Kodo Apprentice Centre and reflect on the unique experiences we all had there, which were only possible by living and training at this marvellous place. I want us to share our experiences far and wide through increased exchange, both face to face and via social media.

None of our diverse activities leads us down the easiest path. I want us to keep tackling each challenge carefully and sincerely as we seek even better sound and create performances brimming with joy.

I sincerely hope that this year will be another great year for you all. I kindly ask for your continued support and encouragement throughout 2019.

               
Yuichiro Funabashi
January 2019

Happy New Year!

Jan. 1, 2020 

New Year’s Greeting from Kodo Ensemble Leader Yuichiro Funabashi

I wish you all a very happy new year!

I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who supported and appreciated our group’s work last year. It’s thanks to all of you that we were able to have a fulfilling year of activities. I would also like to offer my sincere condolences to the people recovering from the typhoons, flooding and other natural disasters that hit Japan and other parts of the world last year.

Looking back over 2019, Kodo kicked off the year with our “Evolution” North America tour. We also took this production to China, where we held our first tour there in 19 years. In Japan, we toured nationwide with “Michi” and our Interactive Performances.

In the summer, we returned to Tokyo’s Asakusa with “Iki,” a special program dedicated to the people of Asakusa. The locals helped us surprise the audience by bringing a slice of Asakusa’s annual festival to the performance. They joined us on stage carrying a portable shrine (mikoshi). It was a dream come true for us to share a taste of their traditional festival with our audience.

Later in the year, we had two wonderful opportunities to share the sound of Kodo with enormous audiences: the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup and the opening event for Japan National Stadium, home to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

The grand finale of our 2019 activities was Kodo “Sen no Mai,” a performance celebrating the 40th anniversary of Chieko Kojima‘s performance career. The work featured Chieko along with a cast of Kodo’s next generation. Under Chieko’s direction, they conjured a grand, beautiful realm on stage that enveloped the entire audience. It was a truly joyous production.

This year, first up for us is our “Kodo One Earth Tour: Legacy” tour in Europe. Back at home, we will visit schools and communities throughout Japan with our Interactive Performances. In May, we will premiere our long-awaited new work directed by Robert Le Page: NOVA.

Following our celebrations of Yoshikazu Fujimoto and Chieko Kojima’s performance careers, we are planning further commemoratives works to mark the milestones of other senior Kodo members who forged the foundations of our current activities.

Of course, we look forward to welcoming you all to our homeland, Sado Island, in 2020. We’ll be hosting our springtime Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi, and summer festival Earth Celebration. We’re working hard to make these events better than ever. Wherever we go, we share the sound of Kodo that was inspired by this wonderful island, and created at Kodo Village. We look forward to sharing the spirit of Sado Island with you, at home and on tour.

I sincerely hope this year is a great year for all of you. I kindly ask for your continued support and encouragement.


Yuichiro Funabashi
Leader
Kodo Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble


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