Taiko Gathering to Feature a Dozen Groups

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The annual Taiko Gathering will be held on Sunday, Aug. 18, the last day of the 2019 Nisei Week Japanese Festival, at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center Plaza, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo. A dozen local groups will be featured:

11-11:30 a.m.: Hanabi Taiko  The name “hanabi” means “fireworks.” Bursts of excitement. Unexpected. Our taiko group formed like one of those bursts. We hope to bring you excitement with our taiko sounds. Our goal is to promote a strong awareness of the Japanese American culture through the traditional art form of taiko drumming. We utilize our energy in creating our own music pieces along with percussion instruments and stories. We are interested in reaching out to the communities for wellness programs, workshops and cultural education. We perform for various events for the public, private and corporate sector. We hope our drumming touches your heart as it does ours. The hearts of all the performers must be united to create the powerful heartbeat of taiko. (http://hanabitaiko.com)

11:30 a.m.-12 p.m.: Togen Daiko  This group was formed April 1996 at Oxnard Buddhist Temple with only a handful of people and has now grown to a group of 17 members diverse in cultural background and age. Our style is Japanese American Buddhist taiko that emphasizes group harmony and shared development. Our pieces are group-composed and shaped by Artistic Director Bruce Arikawa, a past member of Los Angeles’ Kinnara Taiko, who joined the group January 1997 and took over the teaching responsibility. On Nov. 5, 2016 Togen Daiko celebrated its 20th anniversary with a concert for the community. We thank our sponsors, our donors, our nonprofit collaborators, and most especially our loyal community. (http://togendaiko.org)

12-12:30 p.m.: Yuujou Daiko  This group was established in 2012 through our friendship and our passion for taiko. The meaning of “yuujou” is “friendship,” which is indicative of our camaraderie and shared goals that formed our group. We are composed of taiko players from all over Southern California who have been in such diverse groups as Hikari Taiko, Kokoro Taiko, Taiko Center of Los Angeles, and East L.A. Taiko. Since our formation, we have been given tremendous support by the local taiko community and would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation. We hope that through our passion and efforts, we can make significant contributions back to the community. Yuujou Daiko is based in South San Gabriel at Gedatsu Church Los Angeles and in Gardena at the Japanese Cultural Institute. (http://yuujoudaiko.com)

12:30-1 p.m.: Makoto Taiko  This group seeks to unite people of all backgrounds in our local and global communities by preserving and sharing the spirit of Japanese taiko drumming through performances, classes, and other charitable and educational activities. The Pasadena-based community group was established in 1999 and has grown to include 80 members. Through precisely articulated rhythm and movements, Makoto Taiko’s drumming provides a spiritually powerful experience that, despite its Japanese origin, transcends cultures. Makoto Taiko’s mission is to unite people of all backgrounds in our local and global communities by preserving and sharing the spirit of Japanese taiko drumming through performances, classes, and other charitable and educational activities. The literal translation of “makoto” is “pure drum sound.” Additionally, its meaning can be interpreted as a state in which one’s actions are fully aligned with his/her thoughts and ideals. This is a discipline requiring sincerity, honesty, altruism, and integrity. Each performer strives to elevate his/her own spirituality along with that of each person in attendance by drumming with a sense of “makoto.” (http://makototaiko.org)

1-1:30 p.m.: Koshin Taiko  This L.A.-based ensemble that is known for its engaging, intense and powerful performances. The group strives to exhibit kumi-daiko (“ensemble taiko”) to U.S. audiences in hopes that they will leave with a lasting impression of this Japanese cultural art. Started in 1992 under the guidance of Master Etsuo Hongo, members of the group were taught the philosophy and style of Sukeroku taiko. He emphasized using kata (form and technique) not only as a means of visual expression but also as a way to achieve the best possible sound when striking the drum. One of the unique qualities of Koshin is its exclusive use of okedou (rope-tightened) drums. Today, under the artistic direction of Wesley Hayashi and founding member Virginia Minami, Koshin continues to instill the values and experiences handed down from Hongo Sensei, the goal being to achieve a single unified sound when played together with a feeling of “Bright Heart and Spirit.” (http://koshintaiko.org)

1:30-2 p.m.: Taiko Effect  This is a group created to celebrate the passion that its members have for the art of taiko and the effect it has had in all of our lives. (www.instagram.com/taikoeffect)

2-2:30 p.m.: Kishin Daiko  Since the group’s establishment at the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center in June 1981, Kishin Daiko has continued to entertain, educate and enlighten audiences with the dynamic, powerful and heart-stopping sounds of taiko. Kishin Daiko is a multi-ethnic, multi-generational group that exemplifies harmony with diversity. Its music consists of adaptations of traditional Japanese pieces, along with original compositions by contemporary musicians and Kishin members. Although Kishin’s performances are usually focused in Southern California, they have also toured Japan to perform and study taiko. Kishin Daiko devotes itself to sharing Japanese culture and promoting community harmony through its uniquely engaging and diverse expression of taiko music. (www.kishindaiko.com)

2:30-3 p.m.: Crespi Taiko  Under the direction of Blaine O’Brien, Crespi Taiko is an academically accredited high school class teaching the art of taiko drumming. Since Crespi Carmelite, a Catholic all-male college prep high school, made the bold move to include taiko in its music program, the group has grown every year and continues to share the joy of taiko with students through education of the art form’s origins, weekly training, and performance. (www.crespi.org/student-life/crespi-taiko)

3-3:30 p.m.: Nakama Daiko  Established in 2014 under the direction of Tomomi Hongo, Nakama Daiko strives to share the art of taiko to communities across Los Angeles. Some members began playing taiko at El Marino Language School in Culver City with their taiko group, El Marino Rainbow Taiko, created by Etsuo Hongo. Tomomi became the lead taiko instructor for El Marino Rainbow Taiko in 2007 so that her father could pursue his dreams of teaching taiko in South America. Tomomi continues teaching taiko to students from ages 6 to 14 at El Marino. She started Nakama Daiko, a youth drumming ensemble with students who began their taiko journey at El Marino Rainbow Taiko. (www.nakamadaiko.com)

3:30-4 p.m.: Yoki Daiko  Based at the Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters of North America in Los Angeles, Yoki Daiko is a community music group that practices and performs traditional taiko along with contemporary interpretations of this dynamic art form. Established in 1996, Yoki Daiko is composed of members of the local Tenrikyo diocese and people who simply love to play taiko. Its primary goals: To gather any and everyone with a mutual interest and love for taiko; to be a form of sharing with others the church’s philosophy to live joyously with one another as brothers and sisters; to provide community and cultural services through taiko workshops and performances; to nurture the youth of the community through taiko and develop traits of self-discipline, mutual respect, and harmony. (http://tenrikyo-resource.com/2438/introduction-to-yoki-daikos-joyous-drumming-by-keiji-uesugi)

4-4:30 p.m.: Senryu Taiko  Based at UC Riverside and making noise since 1998, Senryu Taiko is one of the earliest intercollegiate taiko groups to ever form in the United States. Self-taught and self-sustained, the club continues the tradition of kumi-daiko by writing music together, teaching incoming members, and forming ties with other collegiate taiko groups across the nation. Available for performances throughout the year, the group has appeared at Downtown Riverside events such as Lunar Festival and Ghostwalk and even get invited to play at Anime Expo. They’ve also done gigs for local schools and charities. (http://2010.senryutaiko.com)

4:30-5 p.m.: Prota  This is a ragtag ensemble of taiko performers based in the Los Angeles area. With diverse backgrounds and experiences, Prota strives to bring innovative, high-energy taiko performance to a wide variety of venues — parties, festivals, banquets, and any other event without noise restrictions. Members hail from taiko groups all over the country: UCLA Kyodo Taiko, UCI Jodaiko, Stanford Taiko, Yukai Daiko, and Cornell Yamatai. Our experience levels range from a few years to more than a decade, and we are constantly pushing the boundaries of what taiko means to each of us. (https://reachprota.wordpress.com/)

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