‘Taiko Summit’ at Mount Shasta

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shastayamaMOUNT SHASTA — Mount Shasta will provide a dramatic presence for ShastaYama 2014, celebrating a “taiko summit” of the most honored and respected taiko artists in America, on Saturday, July 26, at Mount Shasta’s Shastice Park.

Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka and San Francisco Taiko Dojo and Master Kenny Endo and the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble will headline an expanded ShastaYama show. Also appearing will be Masato Baba, Michelle Fujii, and Toru Watanabe, representing the leaders of a new taiko generation.

The Shasta Taiko community group, led by taiko pioneers and Shasta Taiko/ShastaYama founders Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer, will also perform, sharing the stage with more than 30 dynamic performers in a grand celebration of taiko, dance, and music.

The spectacular setting at the base of Mount Shasta in Shastice Park has proven to be a wonderful venue to perform taiko outdoors. ShastaYama has thrilled and inspired thousands of attendees. ShastaYama is the largest outdoor taiko festival in the country, and its success mirrors the amazing development of taiko in America and worldwide.

• Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka introduced modern taiko to America, and his group, San Francisco Taiko Dojo, celebrated its 45th year in 2013. He has been honored for artistic excellence and authenticity and recognized for his contributions by both the U.S. and Japanese governments. He and his troupe have toured worldwide and performed in prestigious venues and with esteemed musicians, including Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck, Art Blakey, Bobby McFerrin, and Max Roach, to name a few. They have been featured in major motion pictures: “The Right Stuff,” “Rising Sun,” “Return of the Jedi,” and “Apocalypse Now.”

• Master Kenny Endo is the first American and foreigner to receive a “natori” (Japanese stage name and master’s license). He has been influential in introducing America to Japanese classical and festival drumming and is recognized worldwide for the use of taiko in contemporary compositions. He is a prolific composer and has performed for Michael Jackson, Prince, and Princess Diana and Prince Charles. He has performed with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, and Tokyo Symphony, is featured on the soundtracks for “Picture Bride” and “Apocalypse Now,” and is recorded in motion- capture for “Avatar.” His taiko skills have taken him to the Smithsonian, the National Museum of Natural History, the Kennedy Center, and the National Theater of Japan, among other venues.

• Masato Baba is the son of Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer. He is the musical director of Los Angeles-based company TaikoProject and a member of the cutting-edge taiko group On Ensemble. He has performed at the Academy Awards, on NBC’s “The Voice,” and with Alicia Keys on Fox’s “X-Factor.”

• Michelle Fujii is the artistic director of Portland Taiko. She and husband Toru Watanabe are known for their creative fusion of taiko and dance. She has toured with San Jose Taiko, On Ensemble, and TaikoProject. The couple’s dance and theatrical backgrounds have helped to raise Portland Taiko’s presentations and taiko itself to new and exciting levels.

• Shasta Taiko was founded by Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer in 1985. Their program of community classes, outreach workshops, performances, and touring has been instrumental in introducing and developing taiko in America. Baba and Mercer are inspirational artists and influential taiko leaders.

ShastaYama 2014 will start at 6 p.m.; gates open at 5 p.m. Shastice Park is located at Rockfellow and Adams Drive. Food and refreshments will be available. Bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating on the grass field, and warm clothes and flashlights for after sunset. No pets or glass. For more information, visit www.shastayama.org or call (530) 859-8686.

Tickets: $25 for ages 18 and up; $20 for ages 13 to 17; $15 for ages 5 to 12; and free for ages 4 and under. Ticket outlets: Mt. Shasta – Village Books & at Soul Connections, Yreka Chamber of Commerce; Redding – Bogbean Books & Music; and at the gate. Credit card purchases can be made on the website or by calling (800) 926-4865, ext. 203.

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