Odaiko New England

San Jose Taiko – Cool in Keene

Meg Suzuki, back in her days with ONE, hanging out with the members of KODO.  Are those KODO cupcakes?!?

Meg Suzuki, back in her days with ONE, hanging out with the members of KODO. Meg, did you really bake cookies with the KODO logo?

Several members of ONE trekked to Keene, NH, to witness the cyclone known as San Jose Taiko rock the Colonial Theater. ONE has a direct connection to SJT in the person of Meg Suzuki; before she left ONE to join SJT’s artistic staff, Meg-sensei taught the classic taiko song Yatai Bayashi and more to me and fellow Community Member Kate, among others.  Meg’s success and continuing taiko excellence as a member of SJT is inspiring!

Adam Weiner

Adam Weiner - from the San Jose website

SJT’s opening song began not with a sonic boom, but rather an odaiko conversation the soloist had with the audience. The crowd was swiftly yet subtly engaged and drawn in to the piece, as the song’s sonic signature evolved.  The ensemble performed the next composition; observing the members’ kata, whether it was unfolding in unison or shifting in waves of synchronous movement, I thought my eyes beheld a taiko kaleidoscope.

The range of moods, sounds and rhythms of the journey SJT shared with the audience during the course of the concert, as well as within each composition, reminded me of a classical musician’s recital program. Just as a classical recital draws upon the music of different composers and eras to create dynamic and varied soundscapes, so too did SJT’s imaginative set.  Their creative use of percussion accessories, especially during transitions, was outstanding. Even the songs provided mini-journeys: each composition’s multiple sections featured embedded themes and choreography serving as audio-visual reference points.

Two indelible images resonate still from that concert: Meg Suzuki lightly skipping and joyfully bounding across the stage, spinning melody after melody on her fue, and my new taiko hero, Adam Weiner, the ‘tall guy’ in the group, beginning a solo on his knees (!) – reaching up with his wingspan to strike the elevated drums.

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