Taiko Jam 2017 will feature performers from across North America. Read more about each group below.
Founded in 1994, Nen Daiko has evolved into a performance group entertaining audiences throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area with pieces that include traditional festival songs and more contemporary compositions. Nen Daiko has performed at many local and national events in the DC area, such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Theatre, the National Mall, the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the NEA/NEH Presidential Commission on the Arts, the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and the summer Obon Festivals at Ekoji Buddhist Temple and Seabrook Buddhist Temple.
ON ENSEMBLE (Los Angeles, CA) feat. SHOGO YOSHII (Yokohama, Japan)
Established in 2002, On Ensemble is one of the most respected ensembles in the taiko (Japanese drumming) world. Led by childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato (Maz) Baba, On Ensemble is recognized for infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences, from jazz and rock to central Asian overtone singing. Its fearless musical exploration has expanded the artistic range of the taiko and has taken these ancient instruments into new realms. The group’s unique sound has been praised as “completely original and brilliantly conceived.” On Ensemble was the first American taiko group to be invited to perform at the National Theater of Japan for the prestigious Nihon no Taiko concert series.
Formerly a performing member of Kodo, Shogo Yoshii was featured on taiko, metallic percussion, bamboo flutes, kokyu (Japanese violin), and in dance pieces. He also provided musical and artistic direction for Kodo and was artistic director of Earth Celebration in 2012. In 2010, he joined the musical ensemble of “Babel (words),” choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet. In the same year, he was music director and performer in Arte y Solera’s flamenco piece, “Dojoji.” His original composition “Sora” is used in a textbook for Japanese elementary school students. Shogo is also involved in the choreographer Cherkaoui’s performance “Noetic” and is recently toured with Fractus V, the newest production of Eastman/Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. He performed in the Avignon festival at the Palais des Pâpes d’Avignon last year.
Unit Souzou was founded in 2014 by co-directors Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe, relentless innovators at the forefront of a growing artistic movement within the worldwide taiko community. Through their 20 years of professional experience, the two have worked with premiere North American taiko groups including San Jose Taiko, On Ensemble, Portland Taiko, TAIKOPROJECT, and Shasta Taiko. In addition to creating groundbreaking professional theatrical works, Unit Souzou is deeply committed to share taiko through community performances and collaborations, public classes for adults and youth, and school-based education programs. They have toured across the West in Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, Utah, Arizona, and Wyoming.
KYOSUKE SUZUKI (Tokyo, Japan)
Kyosuke Suzuki is a master musician and dancer of the Wakayama Performance Troupe, tours internationally, and performs regularly at the prestigious National Theater of Japan. He often collaborates with world-renowned taiko groups including Oedo Sukeroku Taiko, Amanojaku and the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble.
Suzuki is a premier performer and teacher of Edo Bayashi (Tokyo festival music) with a well-respected “Kyo-no-kai” school for private lessons. He is also on faculty at the Kunitachi College of Music, Kaijou Junior and Senior High Schools, and Sankei Gakuen Cultural Center.
Suzuki studied under Wakayama Taneo of the Wakayama School, recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Culture to be an “Important Intangible Cultural Property of Fine Arts,” learning all aspects of the shi-shi mai ensemble including flute, taiko, percussion, and lion dance.