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“The Year’s End” by Yuichiro Funabashi


Dec. 7, 2016

The Year’s End

Photo: Erika Ueda
Hello, everyone. How are you?
The end of the year is upon us. How was this year for you? Personally, I became the Ensemble Leader of Kodo in the group’s 35th year and it feels like it was just the other day that I was penning my first greeting… that’s how fast this year has flown for me! Thanks to your support, the help from our senior members, and guidance from many people, Kodo has carried out a broad range of projects in many regions and countries. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who made our activities possible.

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“Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral” is currently in the final leg of its Japan tour. Since the premiere at Suntory Hall in August, the program has been gaining depth on the road with every performance. We really hope you will come along to the theater to experience the sound we have been crafting over the past months, and years. Let us “charge your batteries” with the sound of taiko so you can start the new year fully energized.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

By the way, as the year’s end started to approach, I was doing some tidying and I came across a memo of a passage I had written down from an essay I read at the beginning of the year.

“Everything that grows changes. And it becomes more complex. With growth, how we think and behave becomes more complex, more multilayered, and we become more detailed and profound.”

These are the words* of philosopher and martial artist Tatsuru Uchida. They are words that express feelings of worry about Japan. He says Japan is moving backwards… that Japan’s sudden growth and changes are accompanied by fear and distortion. This is strikingly clear when you look at the political and economical situation in Japan and abroad.

*Note: This is an English translation of the original Japanese quote.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
However, this year I took part in our “Chaos” and “Spiral” tours and these words made me think of Kodo, a group that is constantly trying to grow. In the middle of the growth process, we have a certain rawness. But I felt firsthand that Tamasaburo Bando used these productions to present Kodo with a future mission. This experience made me become determined to create performances that our audiences will thoroughly enjoy and to always share good sound.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Rehearsals at Kodo Village for “Yugen” (Nov. 2016)

Next year will begin with our “DADAN 2017″ USA Tour, “Hatsune Miku x Kodo Collaboration”, and encore performances of “Michi.” In spring, we will take the stage with Tamasaburo Bando for a brand new production, “Yugen.” As you can see, the first half of 2017 will be a very exciting, productive six months.

Next year, we will continue to pour our hearts into creating soul-stirring sound that will move and energize our audiences. We will do our very best to make next year a wonderful year. We wish you all a happy, healthy new year.

 

Yuichiro Funabashi, Ensemble Leader, Kodo


“Karuizawa Ohga Hall” by Kenta Nakagome


Karuizawa Ohga Hall

On Saturday, we performed at Karuizawa Ohga Hall in Nagano Prefecture.

Photo: Kenta Nakagome

Warming up for the performance

The hall is a pentagonal shape, which was apparently designed and calculated for the echo of sound inside. It is a wonderful venue.

Photo: Kenta Nakagome

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.

Photo: Kenta Nakagome

Tonight we have a performance in Iruma, Saitama.
http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/20161101a_en.html

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Production Details
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20160900oet_en.html

2016 Japan Tour Schedule
http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/index_en.html#schedule26a

Dec. 14 (Wed), 2016 Fukuoka Performance
http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/20161214a_en.html

Dec. 17 (Sat), 18 (Sun), 2016 Osaka Performances
http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/20161217-18a_en.html

Dec. 21 (Wed)–25 (Sun), 2016 Bunkyo Civic Hall, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/20161221-25a_en.html


“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” – An Overview


“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” – An Overview

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Over the past three years, the “Kodo One Earth Tour” productions “Mystery” (2013), “Eternity” (2014), and “Chaos” (2015) have intentionally excluded the most iconic symbol of the ensemble: the o-daiko, or big drum. Instead, these past three years of performances have presented Kodo’s next generation performing new compositions — a telling sign of the group’s determination to move forward. The latest production, “Spiral,” begins by taking a look back at the innovative repertoire composed under the guidance of Artistic Director Tamasaburo Bando between 2009 and 2013.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The programme starts with a rousing piece, Kei Kei. The full cast takes to the stage playing taiko that are slung from their shoulders, thereby allowing the performers mobility amongst the reverberations. This captivating variation of the okedo-daiko (barrel drum) is further showcased in Phobos (2009), Mute (2013), and Kusa-wake (2013).

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

In Spiral, the performers are dressed in either all black or all white, their sleeveless costumes timeless and universal, sleek and subtle. The form-fitting outfits do not belong to any one culture. This allows today’s Kodo ensemble to freely express its sound without being culturally bound by their former stage attire: the Japanese knotted headband and workman’s coat, and the loincloth traditionally worn by each of Kodo’s big drum soloists.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

After its hiatus in recent One Earth Tour productions, the monolithic o-daiko returns to the stage in Spiral. In this performance, the drum appears in the programme under the familiar title: O-daiko. The name “O-daiko” has been honored by Kodo since 1975, when the mighty drum first appeared in the programmes of Kodo’s antecedent group, known as Ondekoza. The taiko remains the same, but this next generation of drummers delivers a dynamic new style of performance. There is no drum cart with lanterns, no loincloths, and no cymbals or flutes. Instead, the massive instrument is flanked by its Western counterparts the timpani and bass drum, which Kodo uses to conjure deep and powerful cadences. This rhythmic universe promises to stir an audience to its very core.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The first act ends with Kodo’s timeless signature piece, Monochrome (1977). Intricately crafted by modern composer Maki Ishii, Monochrome is a thorough investigation of the tonal range of the shime-daiko, a high-pitched roped drum. This piece contrasts the simple yet wild nature of taiko performance, which is emblematic of Kodo’s direction today, as its next generation forges forward using a balance of raw power and honed skills.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The second act commences with Color (2009), which utilizes the same roped drums of Monochrome, but in a completely different way. The performers put down their drumsticks and experiment with different percussive sounds. They tap the drums with their fingernails. They rub the drums with their hands, and they throw clusters of jingling bells onto the skins of the drums. Humor reveals itself in their onstage interactions as they rhythmically hum, sigh and shout to the beat. After the entrancing intensity of Monochrome, this light-hearted approach comes as a welcome relief.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

For the next piece, the stage darkens for the beautiful and captivating Ake no Myojo (2012). Female performers in flowing black skirts take to the stage to drum, sing, and dance as they spin in a perpetual state of sound and motion. Afterwards, the melodic bamboo flutes in Yuyami (2013) create an indescribable sense of nostalgia, which leads directly into the brand new piece, Ayaori (2016). An exploration of the myriad sounds of the odeko-daiko, Ayaori utilizes the performers’ dexterity and a range of drumsticks to conjure sharp and rich tones while deftly weaving them into a coherent whole.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The finale arrives as the title piece, Rasen, which means “spiral.” Rasen features eight performers, the main soloist playing a large flat hirado drum. Surrounding him are seven performers on nagado (long) taiko, okedo (barrel) taiko, and timpani. This powerful octet produces rhythms of complexity and precision while revealing the rich variety of drumming techniques that Kodo has discovered during its evolution. To compose Rasen, Tamasaburo Bando brought a range of Kodo performers into the creative process. Fresh newcomers joined young up-and-coming performers and core soloists, as well as veterans whose careers span some three generations with Kodo.

As the title suggests, Rasen is a whirling helix depicting the evolution of Kodo through its decades of rich history. Phrases from exemplary pieces such as Yatai-bayashi (1973), Miyake (1982), and Tomoe (2003) transport the audience from era to era. It’s a soaring journey through Kodo’s past and into its future. As the strong winds of change blow through the ensemble, this climactic finale shows Kodo’s unwavering footing. The ensemble fully acknowledges its thirty-five year history — all while clearly proclaiming its intention to look to the future.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

When Tamasaburo Bando assumed the role of Kodo artistic director in 2012, he vowed to raise the artistry of taiko performing arts. The Spiral programme boldly demonstrates that his goal and his vision have manifested themselves in full.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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Production Details
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20160900oet_en.html

2016 Japan Tour Schedule
http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/index_en.html#schedule26a

Dec. 14 (Wed), 2016 Fukuoka Performance
http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/20161214a_en.html

Dec. 17 (Sat), 18 (Sun), 2016 Osaka Performances
http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/20161217-18a_en.html

Dec. 21 (Wed)–25 (Sun), 2016 Bunkyo Civic Hall, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/20161221-25a_en.html


“A Visit to Shiretoko Goko Lakes” by Kenta Nakagome


A Visit to Shiretoko Goko Lakes

Photo: Kenta Nakagome

I visited Shiretoko Goko Lakes the day before our “Spiral” performance in Abashiri, Hokkaido.

Photo: Kenta NakagomePhoto: Kenta Nakagome

Surrounded by nature, the peace and quiet there felt so good.

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Luckily, I didn’t encounter any bears!

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“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” Performance Details
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20160900oet_en.html

Schedule
http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/index_en.html#schedule26a


“Bountiful Autumn” by Kodo Ensemble Leader Yuichiro Funabashi


Oct. 5, 2016

Bountiful Autumn

Photo: Taro Nishita

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!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

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.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto
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.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Yuichiro Funabashi, Kodo Ensemble Leader, plays “O-daiko” at EC 2016 “Kodo Village Concert”

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“At Summer’s End” by Yuichiro Funabashi


At Summer’s End

Photo: Maiko Miyagawa

Here on Sado Island, the late-August Ogi Port Festival signals the end of summer each year.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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.

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

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.

Photo: Maiko Miyagawa

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.

Photo: Erika UedaPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

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.

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Maiko Miyagawa

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.

Photo: Erika Ueda

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.

Photo: Erika Ueda

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

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Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20160900oet_en.html


“‘Spiral’ Tour Sets Off!” by Hayato Otsuka


Sep. 1, 2016

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” Tour Sets Off!

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.

Photo: Erika UedaPhoto: Erika Ueda

Photo: Erika Ueda

Photo: Erika UedaPhoto: Erika Ueda

Photo: Erika Ueda

Photo: Erika Ueda

We look forward to seeing you all at theaters all over Japan soon!

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About “Spiral”

http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20160900oet_en.html

Schedule

http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/index_en.html#schedule26a

Performances in Tama, Tokyo (Sep. 17 & 18)

http://www.kodo.or.jp/oet/20160917-18a_en.html


“Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral” Cast & Crew Prepare for Japan Tour


Photo: Erika Ueda

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!

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

“Spiral” Premiere at Suntory Hall (Photos: Takashi Okamoto)

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“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” Japan Tour
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20160900oet_en.html


“Spiral” by Maya Minowa


Aug. 8, 2016

Spiral

Photo: Erika Ueda

Photo: Erika UedaPhoto: Erika Ueda

We are rehearsing for our new production, “Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral” at Kodo Village. The programme weaves both classic Kodo pieces and brand new pieces together. I think our audiences will really enjoy this performance.

Photo: Erika Ueda

 

One of my favorite pieces is “Yuyami,” which almost drifts through a dark landscape on stage.

I look forward to seeing you all at Suntory Hall for the premiere of “Spiral” on Aug. 19.

“Spiral” will tour throughout Japan from Sep. through Dec. this year, so I am also excited to share this programme all over Japan soon!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

 

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news20160818kodo35th

Kodo 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts

http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150917kodo35th_en.html

The next generation of Kodo will take a bold step forward into new frontiers with three mid-summer night concerts in Tokyo. 
*Tickets on sale now for Aug. 18 & 19.
*Aug. 20 performance is SOLD OUT
*Commemorative Concert Sponsors: Suntory Beer Limited, Onkyo & Pioneer Innovations Corporation, POLA INC.


For ticket orders in English, call Ticket Space Tel. 03-3234-9999 (Mon–Sat 10:00–12:00, 13:00–18:00)


======================
Aug. 18 (Thu) First Night ‒Deai‒ (Encounters)
Featuring: Kodo, New Japan Philharmonic
Conductor: Tatsuya Shimono
======================
Aug. 19 (Fri) Second Night ‒Spiral‒
Director: Tamasaburo Bando
Featuring: Kodo
======================
Aug. 20 (Sat) Third Night ‒Hisho‒ (Soaring) <<SOLD OUT>>
Director: Tamasaburo Bando
Featuring: Kodo with guest artists Blue Tokyo & Dazzle
======================
Preview on YouTube https://youtu.be/i091hksFsbs

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“‘An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo’ Sado Performance” by Koharu Ido


“An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo” Sado Performance

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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.

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto
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.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
I learned a lot by being involved with this dynamic Kodo performance, which depicts the ensemble’s spiral of evolution from the past into the future.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

We look forward to seeing you all at a theater somewhere soon!

Photos: Takashi Okamoto
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“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” Japan Tour
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20160900oet_en.html

[Kodo 35th Anniversary Special Event] Kodo Premium Concert
–An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo–

http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20160519kodopremiumconcert_en.html


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