In just eleven short days, we will be presenting our TAIKO NATION concert series at the Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo. When we first started planning the 2014 World Taiko Gathering, we also started brainstorming what the primary showcase concert would look like. The first step was to look at taiko groups and performers from all over the world and see how we might put together a “world taiko showcase.”
We found YouTube videos of taiko groups from all corners of the globe and started putting together a short list of international groups that we’d love to share the stage with. The U.K. taiko community has been growing in leaps and bounds over the last couple of decades, as we were fortunate to experience first-hand when TAIKOPROJECT performed at the U.K. Taiko Festival in 2011. It made complete sense to us to invite the host group from the festival, Kagemusha Taiko, out for their first mainstage performance in the U.S.
TAIKOPROJECT & Kagemusha Taiko members at the 2011 U.K. Taiko Festival
Scouring the web a bit more, we found there was a spectacular taiko group in Australia, appropriately titled TaikOz! A few emails later, the wheels were in motion to bring TaikOz out to LA on their very first US tour! We are super excited to showcase their unique Australian take on taiko at Taiko Nation.
TaikOz with mysteriously floating Anton Lock
Then as we were discussing the possibility of workshops from highly-esteemed KODO performers Eiichi Saito and Chieko Kojima with Donna from Kodo Arts Sphere America, she brought up the possibility of Eiichi and Chieko performing with our buddy (and former KODO member) Kaoru Watanabe, who currently plays taiko professionally in New York City. Can’t turn that down!
Eiichi Saito, Kaoru Watanabe, and Chieko Kojima – taiko legends!
Then to truly make it an international taiko showcase, we invited Grete Moortgat (Belgium), Lucas Muraguchi (Brazil), Isabel Romeo (Spain), and Michelle de Nevares (Argentina), to perform in our opening song for the concert. We were also introduced to a Japanese group called SenRai that was interested in coming out to LA to perform.
Grete, Lucas, Isabel, and Michelle!
Finally, we thought it would be fantastic to end the show with a big bang with none other than the “father of American taiko,” Tanaka-sensei! Maz and I visited him in San Francisco and asked if he would be a part of the concert, and to our great happiness, he said yes!
Tanaka-sensei at the 2014 SF Cherry Blossom Festival
We are just about throwing everything including the kitchen sink into this special concert series (Saturday, July 19, 8 pm, Sunday, July 20, 2 pm & 7 pm), but there are still some surprises I haven’t mentioned in this blog. Stay tuned for more exciting teasers, and if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet…well, what are you waiting for? Saturday is almost sold out, so you can grab some of the few remaining seats in the balcony, or check out the seat availability for the Sunday shows.
Check out ticket and seating map here! Hope to see you at one of the shows!