Posts Tagged ‘On Ensemble’

Taiko Heroes Finished!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

abe david
kris eien
shoji maz

We had a great couple of performances this past weekend! A huge thank you goes out to Justin and Philip for making our stay at the Miles Memorial Playhouse awesome as always. Thank you to Aya and Jennifer for helping us sell merch and woman the ticket table! And a big thank you to all of you who made it out to the concerts!

Our music is always evolving as we explore different influences, play with new musicians and grow as artists and people. Recently I’ve felt our music has a taken a big step forward thanks to the contributions that Eien, Abe and David have made to the group. They have brought a more jazz inspired sensibility to the group and a whole new level of melody harmonic sophistication. The music has really opened up with new possibilities. We are relying more on our senses and improvising parts and even whole sections of pieces so that every time we perform something new happens. It’s been a lot of fun and even pieces that we’ve been playing for years now feel like they have new life and energy. Looking forward to a lot more music making with these guys!

On Ensemble: Taiko Heroes Concert

Friday, October 10th, 2014


The story thus far…
30 years ago two childhood friends picked up the bachi for the first time. Trained by taiko masters in the mountains of Northern California, the islands of Hawai’i and the streets of Tokyo, Shoji and Maz set off into the world to gather their own team of taiko heroes. Many answered the call of the drum. Kris the vegan, bike commuting, namer of phrases was the first join. Then Eien the beer sensei, master of the atarigane and vibraphone answered the call. From the islands of Hawai’i Abe the smiling multi instrumentalist assassin joined the group. Finally David a taiko hero from the next generation emerged to become a member. Their group complete Shoji and Maz set off to create a new sound that would bring together their experiences playing in rock bands, producing electronic music, studying gamelan and traveling around the world learning and performing. They practiced their melodies, odd meter grooves and improvisational skills and their group of taiko heroes became known throughout the land as On Ensemble.

Join us for two nights of great music at the Miles Memorial Playhouse.

On Ensemble: Taiko Heroes Concert
Friday Oct 24th 8:00pm
Saturday Oct 25th 8:00pm

$25 General Admission
Miles Memorial Playhouse
1130 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

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On Ensemble at the WAA Conference

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

“Aside from the incredible talent and energy of the On Ensemble, we found them to be a presenter’s dream.”
– Marlene Hendrickson, University of Montana Presents

“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

“On Ensemble takes taiko way beyond is folkloric roots and moves it into new frontiers”
–  Stan Shikuma, International Examiner


Founded by childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato (Maz) Baba, On Ensemble’s exceptional musicality takes the ancient instruments of taiko into the modern age. On Ensemble will be showcasing at the WAA Conference:
WAA Showcase Schedule
Sheraton Aspen Room
Tues Sept 2nd, 10:10pm
Wed Sept 3rd, 9:30pm
Thurs Sept 4th, 9:30pm

Represented by Cadence Arts Network Booth 601

World Taiko Gathering!

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

We had a great weekend at the World Taiko Festival. Or I should say Kris and I had a great weekend and Maz almost killed himself from overwork and exhaustion. I’d like to personally thank Bryan Yamami, Masato Baba, David Wells, Courtney Deguchi, Tomomi Hongo, Jen Baik, Jenny Maki Mimura, Brian Yamagata, Darren Endo, Yumi Saito, Elizabeth Ishida, Andrew ‘Chensy’ Chen, Keiko Harada, Doug Sakamoto, Kelvin Lee, Blaine O’Brien, Rachel Mock, Audrey Tu, Janelle You, Dan Porter and all of the WTG volunteers for all of their work and dedication to putting together an amazing weekend of taiko magic. Also thank you Lucas for coining the best taiko word ever.

I’d also like to thank Jason, Emily, Dana, Alexa, Donny, Tiana, Jenny, Tomomi, Jen, Maz, David, Blaine, Lisa Margie, Helen and Stacey for joining me in the massive Lion Chant that was performed to launch kaDON! I’ll be posting more about kaDON soon but in case you are interested head over to the website and see what it’s about.

Besides launching a new online taiko teaching venture I taught two workshops, was a panelist for a discussion session and performed at the opening ceremony and gave a speech at the closing session. My first workshop was for the youth program on “Imagination and Improvisation” and the other for one of the core concepts of Lion Chant. I was very happy with both workshops as I’m think I’ve finally found a way of teaching improvisation in a workshop that will give students the tools needed for improvisation. The Lion Chant workshop I was also very happy with as I’m finally starting to find ways to work within the context of a 2.5 hour workshop to teach something substantial with some depth. Part of this ties into the launching of kaDON as I feel freed from just teaching a line or a section of a song and can instead focus on a deeper understanding of the core concepts of a piece in the short time we have in a workshop.

I also performed in the three Taiko Nation concerts. I had a small part but it was just an honor to be a part of such a great concert. I’m really having fun playing more straight kumidaiko again and am fully inspired to explore more possibilities within a kumidaiko context.

However the absolute best part of of the World Taiko Gathering was seeing old friends and meeting new friends from around the world. Michelle and Isabel both said something at the closing ceremony that has stuck with me they both said to remember taiko is about people and the more I progress in this art form the more I see this is true. It really is about people and the wonderful connection we share because of this drum. The taiko community real is a special place.

On Ensemble with Sumie Kaneko at the Getty Center

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

We had a great weekend of performances at the Getty Center for the Sounds of LA series with special guest Sumie Kaneko. The performances were free and reservations for tickets for both shows were sold out. Personally I couldn’t think of a better series to play for than “Sounds of LA”. I always feel like On Ensemble has a very Los Angeles sound. We are all about the particular mix of cultures and influences that happen here in SoCal. Where else would a taiko, throat singing, drum kit, koto, shamisen, vibraphone playing band seem so natural?

We brought out a special guest Sumie Kaneko from NY for this performance and it was really great performing with her. I had performed with her for a separate project in Houston but this was the first time she came to perform with On Ensemble and it was a perfect match. Sumie really adds a whole other layer of possibility and depth to our music and I’m really excited about working with her again in the future.

Lastly we’d like to give a shout out to Sabrina and Laurel for bringing us to the Getty Center. To Sarah, Caitlin and Tony for taking such good care of us and to Chris, Gus, Michael and Bill for making us sound and look great on stage! Thank you!

Also thank you to Kim, Ayano and Joe for volunteering and helping us sell merch! Kim also took these great photos of the performance and rehearsal. Thanks Kim!



On Ensemble and Sumie Kaneko at the Getty Center

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014


On Ensemble’s next public performance will be at the Getty Center for their Sounds of LA series on February 8th and 9th. We’ll be bringing Sumie Kaneko an amazingly talented singer, songwriter, koto and shamisen player from NY out to Los Angeles for these two special performances. The best part? The concerts are FREE but reservations are required! The reservations are available from today so get your tickets soon!

On Ensemble + Sumie Kaneko
Sounds of LA
Saturday Feb 8th 7:00pm
Sunday Feb 9th 3:30pm
Getty Center
Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Reservations instructions and information available at:

Works In Progress ’13

Monday, November 18th, 2013

We are very excited to announce our Works In Progress ’13 concert series! Our Works In Progress concerts are the foundation of our creativity. They allow On Ensemble to experiment, to push our boundaries, and deepen our musical exploration. This practice is particularly important this year as we have gone through some changes in personnel. Kelvin has decided to step away as a full time member to focus more on his family and his own creative endeavors. Kris, still a full member of On Ensemble, will be balancing serious teaching commitments to the Los Angeles Taiko Institute which will limit his participation in upcoming performances. However, On Ensemble will continue moving forward! Joining us in this next chapter of our musical journey will be two new members, Abe Lagrimas Jr. and Eien Hunter-Ishikawa. Maz, Kris, and I hope you’ll be as excited about what Abe and Eien bring to the mix as we are.

Abe Lagrimas Jr.
Abe Lagrimas Jr. is a multi-instrumentalist equally proficient on vibraphone, drum kit and ukulele. Abe has toured throughout the world performing with notable musicians Eric Marienthal, Eric Reed, Azar Lawrence, Bill Mays, Jon Irabagon, Michael Paulo, Lalo Schifrin, Gabe Baltazar, James Morrison, Benny Rietveld, Jake Shimabukuro, James Ingram, Michael Ruff, Valery Ponomarev, Michelle Coltrane and many others. He is a member of Prelude, one of South Korea’s top jazz groups and is an active educator. He has released several albums his latest entitled Solo Ukulele – King of Pop pays tribute to pop king Michael Jackson and was recognized by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts as the EP Release of the Year

Eien Hunter-Ishikawa
Eien Hunter-Ishikawa is a versatile drummer, percussionist and taiko players with a multifaceted musical background. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education at Central Michigan University where he performed, recorded and toured as a member of the Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble. He earned his Master of Music at the University of Hawaii Manoa. During his time in Hawaii, Eien performed and toured extensively as a member of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble. Currently based in Vancouver, Eien collaborates with shakuhachi artist Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos and has performed with a wide variety of musicians from electro acoustic groups Isshin Denshin and Haagen & Ryuzen to dancer Colleen Lanki to bag pipe ensembles, African band Kow Kanda and rock/reggae band Still Creek.

This year we’ve taken an additional step and have extended an open invitation to composers and groups in the taiko community to present a piece at our Work In Progress concert series. We intend to turn this concert series into a creative foundation not only for On Ensemble but for the larger taiko community! Look out for more special guests at these concerts!

Support Works In Progress by joining the FoundatiOn Teanm!
The FoundatiOn Team is our core group of supporters that has continuously empowered On Ensemble to create new pieces that deepen and expand our musical exploration. This year the FoundatiOn Team donations will fund three Works In Progress concerts and a new recording project: EP6! FoundatiOn Team fundraising letters are in the mail now so if you’ve gotten your letter and would like to make your donation online simply use the button below. If you’d like to join the FoundatiOn Team send me an email at: shoji at and I’ll send you a FoundatiOn Team letter!


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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

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