Taiko drumming and movement group coming to CSB

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September 12, 2018

drummers and dancers


The term “ancient Japanese musical practice” certainly describes TAIKOPROJECT.

But LA Weekly Magazine might have summed up best the group’s appeal.

“This ain't your mama's taiko, but it may be your hip, younger cousin's,” the magazine wrote.

The group, which continues to define a modern American style of taiko drumming and movement, will be performing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at Escher Auditorium on the College of Saint Benedict campus as part of the Fine Arts Series at CSB and Saint John’s University.

Founded in Los Angeles in 2000, leading founders Bryan Yamami and Masato Baba took the ancient taiko tradition and enthused it with their own style and new approach to the genre.

“In the hands - and bodies - of TAIKOPROJECT, taiko becomes an exuberant fusion of dance, acrobatics and vocalizations, where the performers sprint from one drum to another, combining choreographed movements with vigorous and graceful percussion playing,” reported Marcy Stamper in the Methow Valley (Washington) News.

Emerging thousands of years ago, the word taiko in Japanese refers to the type of drum, yet the influence of the instruments grew far beyond just their name. Taiko drums were often used in battles, serving important roles such as coordinating soldiers and intimidating the opposing side.

They were also picked up for religious activities, being employed for special occasions and ceremonies. It is common to find them in shrines and temples, as well as being used in festivals and different types of performances all across Japan.

Combining taiko percussion with additional Japanese instruments such as the koto (harp) and yokobue (bamboo flute), the performers of the TAIKOPROJECT blend the sounds together to create a distinctive musical experience.

“TAIKOPROJECT is unique in what it does,” wrote Stephan Laboy for the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star newspaper. “The music is authentic but new and can be appreciated by any audience.”

Winning the Tokyo International Taiko Contest in 2005 over established Japanese taiko groups, TAIKOPROJECT impressed by showing that an American taiko group can do something different and yet still earn plaudits in the traditional taiko scene.

Since then, they have collaborated with performers from around the world including Stevie Wonder, Usher, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Kanye West, adding their talents to these megastars.

The group has performed across the United States, including at the Ordway Center in St. Paul. They have also made television appearances on “The Voice,” “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” the Academy Awards and the Grammys.

Tickets are $30 for adults, $27 for seniors and $23 for CSB/SJU faculty and staff. Youth and students (with ID) get in for $10, and CSB/SJU student tickets are $10.

For tickets, call the Benedicta Arts Center Box Office at 320-363-5777 or order online.

This performance is sponsored in part by St. Cloud Orthopedics, Eich Motor Company and 24 North Lofts on College Ave. in St. Joseph.  A matinee performance for area schools is at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21, and is sponsored in part by Central Minnesota Credit Union.

The activity is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

TAIKOPROJECT is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from Minnesota State Arts Board and the Crane Group.