Featured Project

All posts in the "Featured Project" category.

February 25th – Global Currents!

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

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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!

Happy Lunar New Year!

Monday, February 6th, 2017

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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!

Fireside at the Miles – SOLD OUT!

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

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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 – SOLD OUT!

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

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Taiko Heroes 3

8:00 pm, December 3, 2016
Live Arts Los Angeles
4210 Panamint St (on the corner of Eagle Rock Blvd)
Los Angeles, CA 90065

TICKETS HERE:  Eventbrite

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

ShastaYama 2016!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

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!

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Getting some dinner and hanging out with bears and a statue of sasquatch at Granzella’s!

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Circling up before the show.

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Me and my mom!

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Dad on the sax.

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A view of the audience.

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On Ensemble takes the stage!

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Abe and Sumie hanging out at the photo shoot!

On Ensemble performing at SummerSounds at the Hollywood Bowl

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

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Next week we’ll be performing at the Hollywood Bowl as a part of LAPhil’s SummerSounds. SummerSounds is a fun-filled four week series of lively concerts, combined with art workshops. Each concert is hosted by the dynamic duo of Mr. K and Ms. Smith who lead you on a journey to discover music dance and art from cultures all around the world!

We’ll be performing next week from July 25-29 twice daily at 10:00am and 11:15am. Tickets are $16 and more info can be found at: http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/tickets/summersounds-2016

On Ensemble at APAP 2016

Monday, January 11th, 2016

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ON ENSEMBLE
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. The group’s unique sound has been praised as “completely original and brilliantly conceived.” Modern Drummer magazine calls On Ensemble “an exciting taiko ensemble looking at new ways to apply traditional Japanese drums.” On Ensemble was the first American taiko group to be invited to perform at the National Theater of Japan for the prestigious Nihon no Taiko concert series.

Shoji and Maz were taught taiko at an early age (8 and 6) by Maz’ parents, accomplished taiko players and jazz musicians Jeanne Mercer and Russel Baba. The duo has been playing and making music together for over 30 years and are recognized as two of the brightest stars in the taiko world. Together with the other members of On Ensemble they combine their study and deep appreciation of Japanese traditional music with equally formative experiences as DJs, electronic music producers, and rock bassists to produce, record and perform some of the most compelling and creative taiko music.

APAP Showcases
Saturday January 16th: 8:20pm and 9:20pm
Morgan Suite, 2nd Floor, NY Hilton

On Ensemble Performance with Kaoru Watanabe and Sumie Kaneko
Sunday January 17th: 6:00pm
Shapeshifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place Brooklyn NY 11215

What Presenters are saying:
“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
, Series Producer and Curator, World Festival of Sacred Music

“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, 
Program Coordinator, Design for Sharing

“The contemporary music of On Ensemble blended with traditional Taiko made this a totally new experience! Aside from the incredible talent and energy of the On Ensemble, we found them to be a presenter’s dream. From their enthusiastic outreach performance to the question and answer session that followed, the On Ensemble was a total joy!”
Marlene Hendrickson
, University of Montana Presents

Represented by: Rahcel Cohen, Cadence Arts Network, APAP Booth 1022
ph: 310 701 9191 email: rachel@cadencearts.com

Up Next: Taiko Heroes 2

Monday, November 16th, 2015

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A long time ago in a mountain town far far away… Two childhood friends grew up playing taiko together dreaming of far of destinations. When they were of age they set off to learn from the great taiko masters seeking them out in islands across the sea. They gathered knowledge, honed their skills and gathered more like minded musicians from across the land and became known as On Ensemble. Every year they set off across the galaxy in their modified (with duct tape) Toyota Engineering Corporation Sienna Model Light Freighter to spread their message of music.

It’s time for our annual concert series at the Miles Memorial Playhouse! Taiko Heroes is a chance for us to put together new material and gather friends and family to have one last concert before the year ends. It started as our ‘Works In Progress’ series and it still serves as our own creative space to try new arrangements and pieces. Recently we’ve also expanded the idea to include more people from the On Ensemble family! This year we’ll be featuring On Ensemble founding member and current LATI head instructor Kristofer Bergstrom as a guest artist as well as PROTA a young taiko group that is full of some of SoCals best young taiko talent! See you there!

Taiko Heroes 2
On Ensemble / Kris Bergstrom / PROTA
December 19th 8:00pm
December 20th 2:00pm
Miles Memorial Playhouse
1130 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
General Admission: $22.50 pre-sale/$25 door



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