Odaiko New England

A Concert a Day…

I just had a whirlwind weekend full of rhythm, attending a concert each day for the past three days.

Friday Night: San Jose Taiko in Keene, NH

Hanging out with our buddies from Odaiko New England after th... on TwitPic

Hanging out with San Jose Taiko after their show.


One of the early numbers was a piece involving passing accented rhythms back and forth between two pairs of drummers.  I hope I can develop timing like that one day!  (Not only good timing, but the ability to execute it with lively energy.)

I was also impressed by Hana Hachijo peformed by PJ Hirabayashi (Karen’s Aunt!).  Her stance strong, her movements powerful, each stroke incredibly smooth…  her style was noticeably different from what I learned in a workshop with Chieko Kojima last September, but every bit as mesmerizing.

Those are just a couple of highlights from a truly enthralling performance, which ended with the performers dancing their way out the doors at the back of the theater, encouraging the audience to follow and mingle.

Afterwards, we (Tanya, Joy, Dave B, Karen, Amir, and I) got to hang out with the group over food and beer.  What a terrific bunch!

Saturday Night: Taiko Project in Stamford, CT


The show opened with a video montage on the history of North American Taiko, which blended smoothly into the first song, as they quickly established their exuberant performing personae.

The Stage is Set

The Stage is Set

The rest of the first act demonstrated a sincere respect for our taiko heritage, paying homage both to their own parents and to the people and groups that gave birth to our art form.  The sequence of song and video constructed a compelling story which climaxed with Tsunami at the end of the first act.  Tsunami was such a frenzy that Maz’ hachimaki flew off in the middle of the song.

The second act opened with ‘Behind the Odaiko’, a magnificent Odaiko solo performed with all the traditional trimmings…  plus we got to find out what the soloist (Bryan Yamami) was thinking (especially what he was thinking about his costume).  Diane suggests that our costume committee consider fundoshi for our next performance, as they make quite an impact on the audience.

Not all of their costumes were so traditional.  They switched between modern American athletic wear, clothing that hinted of traditional villages, and very nice taiko hapi…  by the end of the program they were in t-shirts and jeans.  Their clothing was always well suited to the piece and the story.

The performance drew to an energetic and elegant close with ‘Omiyage‘, followed by an encore on slung drums and accessories.

How do I sum up all that skill and energy in one place?  Inspiring?  Awe inspiring?  Something like that.

I would have loved to stay and socialize…  but some of us had to get back to Boston.

Sunday Afternoon: Yoyo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble at Symphony Hall


The Silk Road Project is a wonderful concept inspired by the musical traditions found along the historic silk road.  It’s about cultural exchange through music…  That means that the music of the ensemble was influenced by many cultures from the Mediterranean to Japan.

This concert opened with an improvisation duet: shakuhachi and bawu, played while wandering through the audience.  It was lovely.  This was followed by a series of movements which combined haunting melodies and compelling rhythms.  I think my favorite piece rhythmically was the Saidi Swing which is based on a rhythm originally from upper Egypt, and which heavily featured the wonderful sounds of the Tabla.

While nothing could make up for the absence of taiko ;), it was a breathtaking combination of musical traditions… definitely worth carrying with me back to the dojo.

And in between all these inspiring performances, how did I spend my weekend?

Finishing my taxes!

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