This Saturday, June 25, experience the pounding rhythms of the TAIKOPROJECT. America”™s leading taiko ensemble, returns home to Little Tokyo this summer with a ground-breaking outdoor concert showcasing their exciting new collaborative work with Ryutaro Kaneko. On June 25 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm, TAIKOPROJECT performs in “Rhythmic Relations 2011″ at the JACCC Plaza, along with their affiliate groups Bombu Taiko, Kitsune Taiko and Loma Pacific Taiko.
Report by Pauline Adamek
Over the last 11 years, TAIKOPROJECT has established itself as the leading creative force in North American taiko, developing some of the most ground-breaking work and collaborative works in American taiko history to date.Â In 2000, the group formed and developed an innovative new taiko theatrical production, “(re)generation,” which rethought what a taiko concert could be, infusing video, multimedia, dance choreography, storytelling, and hip-hop rhythms.
Ryutaro Kaneko is considered a living legend in the taiko world, having been a member of the world-famous KODO ensemble from 1987 – 2006. With KODO, he recorded 17 albums, many of which are considered the best taiko recordings ever made.Â He wrote numerous compositions during his time with KODO, and some of them are still being played today.Â He also pioneered two of the most influential taiko styles today, chappa (Japanese hand cymbal) playing in accompaniment to taiko, and katsugi okedo (sling drum), and continues to lead workshops and classes in both styles all over the world.Â Since 2007, he has toured as a solo artist throughout Japan, Africa, and with this performance, the United States.
The creative work developed between TAIKOPROJECT and Ryutaro Kaneko started two years ago when Managing Director Bryan Yamami was asked by Artistic Director Masato Baba, “If you could work with any taiko player in the world, who would it be?”Â Thinking back to his early taiko days, the answer was easy.Â Ryutaro Kaneko was the first and only name to come to mind.
The collaborative work developed will show a wide range of creative exchange at its debut in the “Rhythmic Relations 2011″ concerts.Â Kaneko will perform a solo work, demonstrating his great skill and technique developed over decades of intensive work with KODO.Â As the pioneering force in chappa playing, he will lend his talents to guest perform on chappa with TAIKOPROJECT in Baba”™s “Tsuki E“ (To the Moon),Â a festive, dance-influenced song composed in 2010.Â Kaneko also wrote a song “Unkai“ (Cloud Sea), to be performed by TAIKOPROJECT and Kaneko, inspired by flying over mountaintops and seeing a sea of clouds beneath you.Â Kaneko is also remixing one of TAIKOPROJECT”™s songs, “Seiza“ (Constellations), which blends the soulful sounds of the yokobue (bamboo flute) with the sublime melodies of the koto (Japanese zither).Â Finally, rounding out the various types of musical collaborations possible, TAIKOPROJECT”™s directors Yamami and Baba will be remixing Kaneko”™s “Bird Island,” a high-energy staple in the KODO repertoire.
TAIKOPROJECT performs in “Rhythmic Relations 2011″
With Bombu Taiko, Kitsune Taiko, Loma Pacific Taiko and special guest Ryutaro Kaneko.
When: Saturday, June 25, 2011, 2 pm & 7:30 pm
Where: Noguchi Plaza, JACCC (Japanese American Cultural & Community Center), Little Tokyo
244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: $30 – $35 + service charges. Tickets are on sale online or by phone (213) 680-3700. For group tickets call (213) 680-3700.Â Premium seating packages are available.Â Visit their website for details.
Supported by: Los Angeles County Arts Commission, City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs,
Alliance for California Traditional Arts, and TAIKOPROJECT”™s BaseBeat donors.
The TAIKOPROJECT is an ensemble of premiere taiko drummers dedicated to promoting and advancing the American art of taiko. Through public performances, education, and outreach activities, TAIKOPROJECT is committed to preserving taiko as a dynamic element of Japanese American culture and heritage. In addition to maintaining taiko as a community-based tradition, TAIKOPROJECT also incorporates unconventional and innovative concepts to expand artistic boundaries. Through these values, TAIKOPROJECT seeks not only to entertain audiences, but also to inform them about the history and integrity of taiko as an evolving art form.