On February 25th at 5 pm, we will be performing alongside The Nile Project, Ballet Folclorico do Brazil, Futa Toro West African Drummers and Dancers, Halau Keali`i O Nalani, Las Colibri, and Yuval Ron Ensemble for “Global Currents” at the Valley Performing Arts Center. The festival is from 1-6 pm on the VPAC Lawn & Courtyard and is FREE!
We been having fun and keeping busy over the holidays and into the New Year.
In December, we hosted our sold out home concert, Taiko Heroes 3, here in Los Angeles at Live Arts LA. We brought in Kaoru Watanabe, his student Fumi Tanakadate, and Yuta Sumiyoshi of Kodo. It was a great night of experimental taiko music. Just the way we like it! We hope to continue our relationships with Kaoru and Yuta. Kaoru is a very accomplished musician and we love what he brings to the taiko world. Yuta is super talented and is starting to make a name for himself, so we hope to continue to work with him in the future. Thanks Kim for the photos! And special thanks to Yui for all your hard work in making this happen!
In January, we had a fun, sold out “Fireside Series” concert at the Miles Memorial Playhouse. We consider the Miles Memorial Playhouse to be a place where we have felt welcome from when we first got our start in Los Angeles. Huge thank you to Justin Yoffe for always thinking of us and opening your doors to us!
From February 27th through March 5th, Abe, Sumie, Shoji, and Maz will be on tour to Guatemala and Nicaragua as part of the Japanese Arts in Latin America program! We are super excited as it’s been a while since we’ve traveled internationally. Special thank you to Tomomi Tanikawa of the Japan Foundation, New York for organizing this amazing tour!
On March 11th and 12th, we will making appearances at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm for the Cherry Blossom Festival at Descanso Gardens. Have you ever been to Descanso Gardens before? If not to come watch us, go visit there and enjoy the beautiful botanical collections. We love coming here as it’s one of our favorite places to play (and perform) in LA.
In June, we will be returning to Maui after five years to perform for Zenshin Daiko’s Annual Taiko Festival. We love Zenshin Daiko! Hawaii, in general, means a lot to us as a lot of us have lived and played taiko there. Uncle Tony and Val have been a force in the taiko community and we appreciate their continued support over the years. Zenshin Daiko is one of the top kids taiko groups in the U.S. and we are excited to go back and see their development.
In July, we will be headed to Eugene, OR to return for the Oregon Bach Festival. We had an amazing experience there in 2009 and are excited to be back! We will have an evening concert on July 14 and a family show on July 15.
On September 13th, we will be going to Pullman, WA to perform at Washington State University for their performing arts series at Jones Theatre at Daggy Hall. This is our first time there and we are excited to visit the fine city of Pullman which is the “Best Place to Raise Kids” according to Wikipedia. We will be searching for the best place to eat and get a beer, so if you have suggestions, please let us know! We love great food and beer! As artists, we appreciate the quality, thought, consideration, and time put into amazing food and beer as we are aspiring to become decent cooks and brewers. Check out Eien’s website all about his artistry, cooking, and brewing skills.
On November 4th, Shoji and Maz will be heading to Fort Wayne, Indiana to join our good friends from Fort Wayne Taiko for their home concert. Over the past few years, we have passed through on our tours and taught Fort Wayne Taiko the ever-popular piece, Omiyage, written by Shoji. We will join them on Omiyage and few other songs as their guest artists. We love Fort Wayne Taiko and what they’ve done for the community. Special thanks to Allison Ballard for coordinating with us to make this happen!
We have new promotional photos! Check out a couple here:
Photo credit: Bryce Craig
Hope to see you soon at one of our performances!
SOLD OUT!!! Happy New Year! We will be back at the Miles Memorial Playhouse on January 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm for the Fireside at the Miles.
For tickets and information, please go here: Miles Memorial Playhouse
Taiko Heroes 3
A time to reflect on the year with current favorites and bring in the new year with new work, Taiko Heroes is returning on December 3rd, 2016 at Live Arts Los Angeles! This year, On Ensemble is featuring our good friend, Kaoru Watanabe from New York to present new material from his album Néo. He will be joined by Yuta Sumiyoshi, one of the young featured stars of the iconic Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble Kodo and Fumi Tanakadate, a multifaceted musician based in New York City.
Established in 2002, On Ensemble is one of the most respected ensembles in the taiko (Japanese drumming) world. Led by childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato (Maz) Baba, On Ensemble is recognized for infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences from jazz and rock to central asian overtone singing. Their fearless musical exploration has expanded the artistic range of the taiko and has taken these ancient instruments into new realms.
Kaoru Watanabe is one of the most innovative performers on Japanese shinobue flutes and taiko drums. He seamlessly combines traditional ritual and theater musics of Japan with the complex compositional and improvisational elements of jazz and other western musics.
Yuta Sumiyoshi entered the Kodo Apprentice Centre in 2010, and became a Kodo member in 2013. Despite being a newcomer, he was selected for important soloist positions from his very first tour, including the coveted role of O-daiko. Known by colleagues as Kodo’s “sound maker,” Sumiyoshi specializes in nimble drumstick work, and is always enhancing the musicality of performance pieces
On Ensemble is one of the most respected ensembles in the taiko (Japanese drumming) world. Led by childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato (Maz) Baba, On Ensemble is recognized for infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences from jazz and rock to central asian overtone singing. Their fearless musical exploration has expanded the artistic range of the taiko and has taken these ancient instruments into new realms. The group’s unique sound has been praised as “completely original and brilliantly conceived.“ (Brian Moore, TransformOnline)
Arts Northwest Juried Showcase
Mark Woldson Theater at the FOX
Wednesday, October 12, 2016 – 2:45 pm
What presenters are saying:
“On Ensemble brought their virtuosity of the taiko art to the SummerSounds stage. They worked collaboratively, efficiently, and never missed an opportunity to make the performance better. Shoji and the crew were more than accommodating to the production’s musical needs and rose to meet each challenge with enthusiasm and flair. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with On Ensemble again, as their professionalism and mastery in their craft is unparalleled.” – Sarah Little, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association
“On Ensemble was a pleasure to present and the concert program was extremely well received by the students and teachers. Infusing the art form of taiko with a myriad of influences, the music is unique and compelling. The members are remarkable musicians and have a true passion for their work. Beyond their energetic music, one highlight of the performance was a question and answer session with the young audience, which the ensemble approached with sincerity and encouragement. With outstanding musicianship and thought-provoking discussion, it was exactly the kind of experience we strive to offer our participants… I would recommend On Ensemble highly for any presenter looking for an engaging and enlightening world-music ensemble.” – Theresa Willis Peters, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA
“The Aratani World Series was thrilled to have On Ensemble in our inaugural season. This company delivers a diverse and artistically mind blowing performance. Shoji Kameda does an excellent job contextualizing the program from the stage and every member is spot on in terms of virtuosic technique and theatrical presentation. Audiences jumped to their feet begging for more. A young, energetic program with broad appeal, we were proud to present On Ensemble.” – Judy Mitoma, World Festival of Sacred Music
After our last performance at SummerSounds, we got in our cars and drove straight up to Mt. Shasta for ShastaYama. A long 10 hour drive up I-5 in 110 degree weather, we arrived around midnight and checked in Eien, Sumie, and Abe into their hotel. I went to my parents’ with my wife, Courtney (who is the best for supporting me and On over the years), and Shoji went home to his parents’. We all got a few hours of sleep and then had a morning tech rehearsal. The weather was starting to get nice and toasty. Close to 100 degrees!
Nevertheless, ShastaYama was magical as always. This year, Shasta Taiko, Taiko Trekkers, Tadaima (my mom and dad’s jazz group with Gary Fitzgerald), Steve Cervantes, and Unit Souzou performed and we closed the show. It’s always the best to perform for the home crowd!
ShastaYama will always make me emotional because it’s home! My mom and dad, Jeanne and Russel, obviously mean a lot to me, and to pull ShastaYama off for 10 plus years is quite a feat. Plus, it means I get to perform with them, my bro, Shoji, my wife, and some of the best people and musicians in the world. I will always treasure these memories that have built up over the years.
We also had a photo shoot in the beautiful countryside of Mt. Shasta. I’m looking forward to seeing the results. Stay tuned!
After the photo shoot, Abe and Courtney drove back to LA, Eien dropped Sumie off at the Medford airport on the way back to Portland, and Shoji and I are staying to work on some new material.
It was a great tour. Full of awesome music, beer, food, and company. Thanks to all for helping us along the way!
Getting some dinner and hanging out with bears and a statue of sasquatch at Granzella’s!
Circling up before the show.
Me and my mom!
Dad on the sax.
A view of the audience.
On Ensemble takes the stage!
Abe and Sumie hanging out at the photo shoot!
For SummerSounds, we had two performances everyday from July 25 – July 29 for countless kids and their parents. It was a challenge for us as we had some acting to do. Actually, it was more of a challenge for Shoji as he had most of the lines. Good job Shoji! In short, the story was about Japanese taiko, our instruments, and our music. We traveled from Japan to Los Angeles with Smith (the new Summer Sounds guide) to visit Mr. K (the retiring Summer Sounds guide) and convince him to love our music. Special thanks to the Summer Sounds staff and all the ushers for helping us load in and load up every day! It was a blast.
Jammin’ on Lion Chant.
Sumie and Mr. K. “Mr. K, please don’t improvise on my koto!”
This made me super happy. The Kodama were hiding in the bamboo in the backdrop!
Photo op with one of our fans!
It’s a wrap! The ushers helped us every day! Mr. K was amazing. We miss you, Smith!
Ian has added two more videos from the Taiko Heroes concert! The first is an On Ensemble standard, “After Rain”. I’m praying for rain right now as I listen to it.
The second, “June”, is by our own Eien Hunter-Ishikawa. Eien is a great musician and has added so much depth to the music. Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten to know Eien well and he’s just an overall amazing dude. He teaches us the many ways of beer, food/cooking, and life. Oh yeah… and music too… =) he’s pretty good at that. Abe absolutely kills it at the end. How do you do that??? These two dudes are amazing.
Enjoy the videos!