My Travels in the USA
Happy New Year, everyone!
Late last year I was traveling through the USA. In case you missed it, here is a link to a blog post by Kodo staff member Yui Kawamoto who accompanied me for the first leg of my trip: [Kodo Blog] “Taiko Fun in Los Angeles!” by Yui Kawamoto
Starting in Los Angeles, I traveled to San Diego, Las Vegas, Chicago, and New York, to lead workshops and take part in concerts.
Everywhere I went, I met so many different people. Taiko players and musicians, and people who are neither. Each community I encountered welcomed me and I enjoyed all kinds of exchange during my stay. Sometimes it was through sightseeing. Sometimes it was over a drink. Sometimes it was during a jam session. I was so well looked after by all the people I spent time with everywhere I went.
If I start writing about what I did in each place, well, that will turn into a very long story… (lol)
So, I would like to write about some of what I felt and the lessons I learned during my travels in the US.
I planned this trip based on my own desire to see what I could do alone, as one person. Until now, I have always relied on the support of others in various ways… musically, linguistically (lol).
So I wanted to stand on my own two feet and face all those challenges myself. As I set off on this trip, I thought of it like a journey to gain and hone skills.
Instead of creating sound with a group (in my case, Kodo), on this journey all that sound would come from me. I mean that physically speaking it would be just me playing and that I would be responsible for the sound I created when I played with others. I wanted to step up to each occasion as myself, Yuta Sumiyoshi from within the Kodo group, and not as “Kodo.” I would appear alone in jam sessions, naturally, but I would carry that intent into my ensemble performances and workshops, too.
On this trip, I had many opportunities to improvise during performances. I rediscovered the sensation you get when the sound you create ignites your fellow performer, right there and then. It reminded me that when I play with Kodo that we absolutely need to feel that sensation during our performances, the sense of creating stimulus as we perform.
That sensation of spurring each other on when you perform on stage.
Noticing how good it feels, and how intense it feels until you reach that point.
Wondering how to get there. Wondering what kind of flow you want to create.
And it’s not just me playing, so I consider what kind of sounds can I create amongst different musicians. What sound do I want to create?
It’s like having a conversation with sound instead of words. (My communication in English is also like that at times, lol)
Next… I’ll play this! And I’ll add a break… here!
This back and forth becomes music and the interaction creates one big flowing dialogue.
These new sensations were really eye-opening and taught me so, so much.
The workshops I led in each place I visited were also really invigorating experiences for me. My mindset was to convey as much as possible without relying on an interpreter! (lol)
I have written about this before (maybe not in English) but in a workshop you appear as your real self. You can’t fake anything and you can’t pretend to be something you’re not. When I stand before others in a workshop, I can convey what I am particular about when I play and what I keep in mind in general. Each workshop was full of lessons for me, in the same way I learned a lot through each performance. In workshops, questions fly about from different perspectives than I am used to with Japanese people. Some questions are sharp and to the point, others are broad. In many instances, the questions I was asked made me suddenly aware of my feelings and theories about all sorts of things!
I could keep on writing about so many things, but there is too much to say and I still haven’t figured out how to sum up what I experienced on this trip. For now, I’m going to let it sink in, bit by bit, and I am going to share more thoughts with you all once the words come to me.
I am truly grateful to everyone who I met during my travels around the USA in late 2016. I am already looking forward to seeing you all again soon!
Karuizawa Ohga Hall
On Saturday, we performed at Karuizawa Ohga Hall in Nagano Prefecture.
The hall is a pentagonal shape, which was apparently designed and calculated for the echo of sound inside. It is a wonderful venue.
The reverberations of our taiko were great, as was the weather in Karuizawa, so the combination of the location and day made for a really feel-good performance.
Tonight we have a performance in Iruma, Saitama.
2016 Japan Tour Schedule
Dec. 14 (Wed), 2016 Fukuoka Performance
Dec. 17 (Sat), 18 (Sun), 2016 Osaka Performances
Dec. 21 (Wed)–25 (Sun), 2016 Bunkyo Civic Hall, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
Rehearsals for “Kodo Village Concert”
We have returned to Sado Island after our Kodo 35th Anniversary Concerts at Suntory Hall and leapt straight into rehearsals at Kodo Village with the EC 2016 guest artists from Vietnam! We are collaborating to make new pieces together to perform at Kodo Village Concert on Aug. 26.
We are so curious about each other’s culture and music.
The current atmosphere in the Kodo Rehearsal Hall is both harmonious and electric!
We look forward to sharing this feel-good exchange and collaboration with you all soon at EC.
We are waiting for you all on Sado Island! See you soon!
Earth Celebration 2016
Aug. 26 (Fri)–28 (Sun), 2016
Sado Island, Niigata
“An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo” Sado Performance
On May 19, we held the opening night of Kodo Premium Concert “An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo” at Amusement Sado.
This is the first time we have given a performance with a commentary by our artistic director, Tamasaburo Bando. He talked about an array of episodes since his first encounter with Kodo, so it was a very interesting new programme.
Our performance on Sado had a unique programme* that also featured some pieces from our next new production, “Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral.” We hope you’ll join us this fall to see “Spiral” on its first tour throughout Japan.
*Premium Concert programme will differ in Tokyo, Kyoto, Kagawa, & Kumamoto.
We look forward to seeing you all at a theater somewhere soon!
“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” Japan Tour
[Kodo 35th Anniversary Special Event] Kodo Premium Concert
–An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo–
July 18 – 20 Chieko Kojima & Eiichi Saito at
“2014 World Taiko Gathering” (Los Angeles, USA)
This past weekend, we participated in the World Taiko Gathering held in Little Tokyo of Los Angeles.
Left: At the Welcome Reception on the first day. Over 300 particpants enjoy a meal and jam session together.
Right: Presentation about Kodo & Sado Island.
Taiko players from all over the world came together on this wonderful event, and the diversity of bachi bag holders walking around town was a heart-warming sight!
Outdoor events were held day to night; wonderful workshops, informative discussion sessions, and exciting performances created a festive atmosphere.
Left: Eiichi Saito leads a beginner’s taiko workshop
Right: Chieko Kojima leads a dance workshop
On May 4, Kodo appeared at this special event on a special stage at the south exit of Niigata Station. Five members performed, but it felt like a large ensemble concert thanks to the atmosphere created by the warm-hearted Niigata locals filling the audience.
The weather was beautiful and koi-nobori (carp streamers, special decorations for Children’s Day in Japan) were “swimming” happily in the sky. The temperature went above 20℃ on this spring day, so there were some people in short sleeves at the 2pm performance.
Good weather reminds us our summer festival, “Earth Celebration” in August! We hope to see you at Earth Celebration 2014!
Kodo Blog｜Earth Celebration 2014 (Rehearsals, etc.)
We will also perform at Niigata Station on June 15. We hope to see you then!
Kodo Appearances at Niigata Station Events (Niigata City)
April 4 Performance to Commemorate the Maiden Voyage of New Ferry “Tokiwa-maru”
A new ferry has joined the Sado Kisen fleet, which we always use to come and go from Sado Island. This was my first experience of performing on the sea. I was both really excited about the new ferry and really worried about getting seasick.
We set sail and our performance commenced!
We began with okedo-daiko piece Ugachi, which we played as we wove our way through the audience. Then we performed Hobashira Okoshi Ondo, a tradtional workmen’s song for raising the mast on sail boats. Kenta Nakagome played Odaiko, then to finish with a bang we all performed Yatai-bayashi. I could barely stand straight for the encore piece, but once you go with the motion of the waves, you get into a different groove than usual and that was fun in itself.
Mar. 28, 2014
The “School Workshop Performance” team is back in Niigata Prefecture. Tonight we are performing in a dinner show at Ryugon, one of the top three traditional hot-spring inns in Japan!
This will be our fifth consecutive year here. Of course we want the audience members to enjoy themselves, but it is also like a dream for us as performers to come here, soak in the hot springs, eat delicious foods and play taiko together.
This year our performance will also include a collaboration with Niigata-based shamisen player Fumiyoshi, so the program will feature a range of music! I can’t wait for tonight!
▼Rehearsals for the Ryugon Performance
Kodo Website: Kodo Performance at Performance at Traditional Japanese Inn “Ryugon”