Archive for October, 2013

Matsuri Crashers Battle and 2013 Taiko-thon this weekend!

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

It just so happens the 2013 Taiko-thon will be broadcasting the same day as our upcoming battle at Asano Taiko US, so we’ll be live-streaming a few segments from the facility. If you’re in the area, come on over and watch the battle, and get a chance to wave to your distant taiko friends on camera!

Those of you not in SoCal, find the Taiko-thon livestream here.

Saturday, Nov 2, 2-4pm
Asano Taiko US
20909 S Western Ave
Torrance CA 90501
http://taiko.la/next-battle

Up to Portland

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

After returning to Los Angeles from Tokyo we are back on the road again this time it’s up to Portland OR to perform with Portland Taiko for their annual home concert series Making Waves.

As many of you know Michelle Fujii who is now the Artistic Director of Portland Taiko was one of the first On Ensemble members. She performed with us from our US debut back in 2002 until she took the Artistic Directorship at Portland Taiko.

I first met Michelle in 1995 at the first collegiate taiko invitational. At the time she was the artistic director of UCLA Kyodo Taiko and I was leading Stanford Taiko. Since that moment I’ve known that she would be someone whose life would intersect with mine. The next time we met was right after graduation. I took a touring position with San Jose Taiko and Michelle was on staff with the group already.

I remember being on tour with her and going out to practice in the parking lot in the middle of Iowa. Though we both had our first paying jobs playing taiko we were both talking about going to Japan to further our interest and study in taiko and dance. The next time we met was in Japan. I was living and studying in Tokyo and Michelle was in Akita studying with Warabiza. It was at this time that we started talking more seriously about playing together.

When I started On Ensemble with Maz and Kris and I knew who would be a perfect fourth member: Michelle Fujii. The four of us put together a rag tag tour of the West Coast. We spent a very intense residency in Mt. Shasta coming up with new material for the group and practicing long hard hours. Looking back at that time I think it was a formative time for all of us. We were starting to find our own unique creative voices.

Michelle was instrumental in the formation of On Ensemble. It was a crazy time in our lives. Michelle was splitting time between Los Angeles, Portland and Akita. Maz was living in Hawai’i then Tokyo and Kris and I were in Los Angeles trying to establish our group. It was also a magical time. We got to be there when Michelle was developing her first pieces and her unique voice as an artist.

Eventually Michelle was offered the artistic director position at Portland Taiko and I knew it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Though we had naive ideas about being able to keep playing together the reality of the time and energy it took to keep Portland Taiko and On Ensemble advancing meant we haven’t been able to play together as much as we both would’ve liked. So this joint concert has special meaning. We are no longer the young starry-eyed naive artists we were. We are entering a new stage as artists where we are more mature (hopefully) our creative voices are stronger and we know that moments like these are too be cherished. We are looking forward to sharing the stage again with Michelle. See you at the concert!

Back from Tokyo

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

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We just returned from Tokyo and it was a great trip overall. We started with our performance at the Kokuritsu Gekijyo. It was an honor to perform at the National Theater and be a part of such a great program. It was especially fun to perform with Amanojaku in the finale and have Chris and Daisuke join us for Jack Bazaar.

Another highlight for me was performing Symmetrical Soundscapes with Kenny and Maz. Kenny Endo has been such an inspiration to me as an artist. He has done so much for not only On Ensemble but also for our entire art form and Symmetrical Soundscapes is one of my favorite taiko pieces of all time. To perform that piece with Kenny and Maz on the stage of the Kokuritsu Gekijyo was a great moment.

After the Nihon no Taiko concert we had a couple of days to rehearse for our Shibuya performance and enjoy being in Tokyo. It’s been 11 years since I’ve been back to Tokyo and I had forgotten how much I like the city. Everywhere you look there is something going on at all times of the day and you always meet interesting people. Not to mention the food!

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Finally the day of the Shibuya concert came and a ton of staff from Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten loaded in a ridiculous numbers of drums through up six floors through a very small elevator. The concert went very well and we had a blast performing for a sold out and enthusiastic audience. We performed the first half then Kenny and his group of Tokyo musicians who included Hamada san, Suzuki san, Kaoru san and Semba san took the stage for a great second half and somehow we all fit on stage for a couple of pieces at the end. It was a great concert and a great way to introduce On Ensemble to Tokyo.

We have a TON of people to thank and a lot of work went into making this trip a success. Aichan, Kudo san, Koriyama san and the entire staff at Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten did so much work behind the scenes to make everything happen. They hauled drums around Tokyo, promoted our shows and made us feel very welcome and supported. Most of all we have to thank Yoshihiko Miyamoto who came to our very first concert in Hakodate Hokkaido some 11 years ago and has supported On Ensemble from the very beginning. Our music would not be possible without the support of so many people from Yoshihiko to the Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten staff to the great teachers we’ve had over the years to all our friends and family and to our fans. It’s amazing to feel so supported by so many to create music. Thank you.

Next up: Making Waves with Portland Taiko

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Our next concert is a joint concert with Portland Taiko. As many of our fans know Michelle Fujii who is now the Artistic Director of Portland Taiko was one of our first On Ensemble members. She played with us from the time we returned from Japan to when she took the Artistic Directorship of Portland Taiko and was a big part of the beginning of our group. We are really looking forward to performing together again!

Making Waves
Saturday, October 12th 8:00 pm
Sunday, October 13th 2:00 pm
The Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave
http://portlandtaiko.dreamhosters.com/home-shows/

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