Oct. 5, 2016
Hello, everyone. I hope you are all well.
The rice harvest has nearly finished here on Sado Island and the crops are drying on racks. We look forward to tasting the newly harvested rice very soon. One of the luxurious perks of living in a rural area is eating locally grown rice, and I have to say that Sado Island has particularly delicious rice!
Our “Spiral” and “Interactive Performance” tours are currently on the road in Japan. I encourage you to go along to experience these energetic performances at a venue near you. Both casts are largely made up of young performers. Everyday they work so hard to deliver better and better performances, so I am sure they will return to Sado Island even stronger after their efforts on these tours.
While the main tours have been on the road, I have been on Sado Island and performing in various places, too. Last weekend, I went to Korea with a select Kodo ensemble, which was Kodo’s first time there in 16 years. It was a whirlwind schedule, just three days and two nights, and we went there especially to perform with Kim Duk Soo and SamulNori at “Korea Japan Exchange Festival 2016 in Seoul.” It was inspiring to see so many Japanese and Korean artists performing in one place. At the end of the festival we all came together for an exciting, climatic finale.
Next I’m off to Vietnam for our debut performances there next week. This will be the 49th country where Kodo has given performances. We look forward to being reunited with EC 2016 guest artists Bac Ha and the other friends we made during our visit in February this year. We will perform at a music festival in Vietnam and we look forward to new encounters and further cultural exchange.
Our trip to Vietnam promises to be a great opportunity to learn more about the history and background of local musicians and our recent collaborators, as we found out last year after Earth Celebration when Kodo visited Suar Agung in Bali, Indonesia. It will give us all a chance to deepen our mutual understanding. In a few years time, perhaps we can invite guests from various countries back to EC on Sado Island for further collaborations, too.
Kodo tours regularly throughout, Europe and North America, but in recent years we are also enjoying the increasing number of opportunities that arise for us to perform on other continents, too. In the past year, with our performances in Hong Kong, Brazil, Indonesia, Korea, and next in Vietnam, we are traveling to new places and drawing on new inspiration. I am sure this will lead to each member, and our entire group, creating broader, deeper forms of music and expression, which we look forward to sharing with you all.
If you’re in Japan, keep an eye out for the November issue of “Dance Magazine.” It has a special feature on Kodo’s 35th Anniversary Concert “Hisho” (Soaring) with Blue Tokyo & Dazzle. It’s on sale now!
Photos: Masayuki Sakamoto (above) and Yuichiro Funabashi at Kodo Village holding the Nov. 2016 issue of Dance Magazine. They just got back from Korea.
“Dance Magazine” Nov. 2016 Issue
Kodo 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concert “Third Night ‘Hisho’–Soaring–”
Packed with a diverse array of powerful performances, the first act of Hisho features Kodo performing the compositions of Tamasaburo Bando. For the second act, Bando directs Kodo as they collaborate with two unique dance ensembles: the male rhythmic gymnastics troupe Blue Tokyo, and the street dance performance group Dazzle.
On Oct. 2 we took part in an event in Korea called “Korea Japan Exchange Festival 2016 in Seoul.”
As the title of the event suggests, it was a fun day of cultural exchange with performances by artists from Japan and Korea. We were so happy to have the chance at this event to perform with Kim Duk Soo and SamulNori for Kodo’s first time in 16 years.
We prepared for this collaboration with only a few long-distance conversations, but when we rehearsed together the day before, it all came together in perfect unison.
It was a short but really fulfilling stay and experience!
Kodo Appearances at “Korea Japan Exchange Festival 2016 in Seoul”
Oct. 2 (Sun), 2016 Seoul, Republic of Korea
Recently I was given the opportunity to take part in the recording of music for a contemporary dance production called “Cross Transit.” The music director Hiroaki Yokoyama came all the way to Sado for the recording with me! Mr. Yokoyama is such a talented person who has provided music to so many different artists.
These photos show our recording sessions at Kodo Village in the rehearsal hall. Most of the Kodo members are away on tour, so I was lucky to have the whole space to myself for this recording.
We layered my vocals to create depth, recorded my voice doing sound effects and animal sounds, and I spoke lines from a script. It was unlike any recording I have ever done before and it was… interesting! I look forward to seeing how it will turn out with the touch of Mr. Yokoyama’s magic.
Hiroaki Yokoyama, Sound Director (Profile courtesy of Cross Transit website)
He was born in Texas, U.S.A. and spent his childhood in the Netherlands.
During university, he toured with many artists as an assisting member and composed music for TV commercials, films, and animations.
He composes, arranges, and produces music for many artists including YUKI, MISIA, JUJU, Yuko Ando, and Kaera Kimura.
He has toured and played for Noriyuki Makihara, miwa, and Gen Hoshino on keyboard.
He currently is a member of Rendez-vous Band directed by Keiichi Sokabe and L.E.D.
Here on Sado Island, the late-August Ogi Port Festival signals the end of summer each year.
In August this year, we accomplished two great feats. At our 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts, we performed three diverse programmes over three consecutive days at Suntory Hall under the direction of Tamasaburo Bando. The wonderful acoustics of Suntory Hall echoed with the sounds of taiko and orchestra, while dynamic music and dance filled the hall with electric energy.
The performances commemorated Kodo’s 35 years of history, and also the past sixteen years spent working under the passionate guidance of Tamasaburo Bando. These performances were also a fitting “first step” into the future for Kodo.
The week after our celebrations at Suntory Hall, our annual festival “Earth Celebration” took on a brand new challenge by shifting its focus to Sado Island as a whole. Thanks to the support of many people, the festival was able to offer a wide array of events and activities all over Sado.
This year EC did not feature its symbolic Shiroyama Concerts. Instead, with events such as Kodo Village Concert (directed by Kenta Nakagome), EC Theatre (directed by Masayuki Sakamoto & Mitsuru Ishizuka), and Kodo Fringe Performances (led by Eri Uchida, Yosuke Kusa, & Yuta Sumiyoshi), this year the Kodo members were able to spend more time wholeheartedly enjoying the festival with people from Sado and afar, with more freedom for spontaneity and experimentation than we have had in recent years.
With great changes come a lot of hurdles, but I felt each Kodo member make the most of their unique talents to rise to this new challenge, and new buds of creativity certainly bloomed. I felt growth as the festival expanded to encompass the whole island for this summer celebration of the earth.
Both the Suntory Hall concerts & Earth Celebration took a great deal of time and hard work from rehearsals through to the actual events, and the look of fulfilment on the performers’ faces was a sign that they had all gained so much from these experiences, as did I. Kodo currently has time for rehearsals, a place to rehearse, and range of instruments to seek the sound we want to create. For us as performers, these conditions are irreplaceable assets. I think we owe this wonderful environment to everyone who has lent Kodo their support and guidance to date, to our audience, and to our staff. We are grateful to you all.
Without a moment to rest, the Interactive Tour and Kodo One Earth Tour “Spiral” have already set off on the road in Japan. We have small ensemble and solo projects underway, too, which like our tours will take the many things we gained through our experiences this summer on the road and pour them into our sound. We also look forward to bringing the new experiences we gain around Japan and abroad over the next months back home with us.
Yuichiro Funabashi, Kodo Ensemble Leader
Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral
This month, Chieko Kojima will appear in “Road to Kumano” a collaborative work with TaikoProject in Los Angeles. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll come along!
Sep. 15 (Thu), 16 (Fri), 17 (Sat), 18 (Sun), 22 (Thu), 23 (Fri), 24 (Sat), 25 (Sun), 2016
David Henry Hwang Theater, East West Players, Los Angeles, California, USA
Doors Open: TBA
Dates & Start Times
Sep. 15 (Thu) 20:00
Sep. 16 (Fri) 20:00
Sep. 17 (Sat) 14:00 & 20:00
Sep. 18 (Sun) 14:00
Sep. 22 (Thu) 20:00
Sep. 23 (Fri) 20:00
Sep. 24 (Sat) 14:00 & 20:00
Sep. 25 (Sun) 14:00
Ticket Availability: Now on sale
Venue Website: http://www.eastwestplayers.org
Inquiries: TaikoProject http://taikoproject.com
Rumored to be “life-changing,” this biennial program called KASA MIX is an intensive program designed for taiko players from outside of Japan.
With the current growth of the international taiko culture and community, the KASA MIX participants have gathered from countries all over the world such as United States, Canada, England, Argentina.
When they arrived on Sado, the KASA MIX participants joined our apprentices in their unique lifestyle at the Kodo Apprentice Centre.
They participated in every aspect, from the early morning workout to eating meals, cleaning, and taking baths together.
They took a variety of different workshops from our veteran Kodo performing members, and experienced the great seasonal nature of Sado.
Timing worked out perfectly to observe one of the practices of ondeko (demon drumming) in the Iwakubi community, and had the opportunity to learn an ondeko dance themselves, from the Kasuga community in the latter half of their stay.
And of course, they enjoyed everything else that this island has to offer.
Gathering from all over the world, the participants were able to share with us some taiko stories from their country or area.
The different reasons, history, spirit and culture that each person had shared with us have opened up a bigger world for our young apprentices who had no knowledge on the taiko culture outside of Japan.
As they discovered their new findings of taiko in the world, it looked to me that they found another reason to strive to become a Kodo performing member.
KASA MIX has come to an end once again with very warm and heart-filling memories through this short time we had together on Sado island.
As one of the staff members for this program, I was very moved by the unification we have created through taiko, which brought a sense of nostalgic comfort to my heart.
Thank you to everyone who participated this year! We look forward to seeing you again somewhere in this world.
Next one is coming up again in two years! To all taiko enthusiasts all over the world, we look forward to having you here on Sado for our next KASA MIX!
This is my fifth year on stage with Kodo and my first time performing on the School Workshop & Interactive Performance tour. Our first performance was at a school in Shinjo, Yamagata, last week.
The atmosphere and dialect of the Tohoku region made me feel nostalgic for my hometown area, Akita Prefecture.
I will tour with this cast until December this year. I hope you will come along and see our performance. I think it has a unique sound and feel that only the seven of us could create!
Kodo Interactive Performances
Sep.–Nov. 2016 (Japan)
Sep. 1, 2016
This morning, it felt like autumn weather had arrived as we set off on our Japan tour with “Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral,” given a farewell taiko serenade by some of the members remaining on Sado.
We look forward to seeing you all at theaters all over Japan soon!
Performances in Tama, Tokyo (Sep. 17 & 18)
After Earth Celebration and Ogi Minato Matsuri, today the cast of new production “Spiral” had their final pre-tour run-through rehearsal. The first domestic tour of this work is about to begin!
“Spiral” premiered at Suntory Hall on Aug. 19 as one of Kodo’s 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts. Next, we look forward to sharing this performance with audiences in 36 cities nationwide from September through December. Please come along to see us at a theater somewhere soon!
“Spiral” Premiere at Suntory Hall (Photos: Takashi Okamoto)
“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” Japan Tour