TAHLEQUAH – San Jose Taiko has mesmerized audiences and critics with the powerful, spellbinding and propulsive sounds of the taiko drums for three decades. Inspired by traditional Japanese drumming, company performers express the beauty and harmony of the human spirit through the voice of the taiko as they strive to create new dimensions in movement and music.
Northeastern State University and the Sequoyah Institute are bringing San Jose Taiko’s Rhythm Spirit to the NSU Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. The show is sponsored by Tahlequah Pediatrics.
San Jose Taiko was founded in 1973 by young Asian Americans searching for an artistic and musical outlet to convey their unique experiences as third generation Japanese Americans, or Sansei. Looking to Japan for inspiration, they selected the symbolic taiko or drum as their instrument of expression.
As a symbol, taiko holds much of the essence and spirit of Japan, replete with continued possibilities, renewal and transformation. Its origins were found in the daily life of the common people. Priests used taiko to dispel evil spirits and insects from the rice fields; Samurai used taiko to instill fear in the enemy and courage in themselves; and the peasants used taiko in their prayers for rain, in festivals, and in thanksgiving for bountiful harvests. The traditional practice and performance of taiko requires dedication, physical endurance, harmony and a collective spirit.
San Jose Taiko has taken this essence and voice of the traditional taiko and infused it with the vitality and freshness of their American spirit, creating a dynamic and compelling new Asian American art form. The artists use the power and beauty of taiko to transcend cultural barriers and foster a greater understanding of the Japanese American culture. Taiko is so deeply a part of the traditions of the Japanese and the Shinto and Buddhist religions that it is considered to be both the essence and the heartbeat of the Japanese spirit.
San Jose Taiko annually tours throughout the United States and Japan. In addition to concerts and extensive residencies on college/university and performing arts centers, they have performed at Reno's Nugget Casino, on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon and at Carnegie Hall.
In August 1997 the company spent the month performing and in residencies throughout Japan, including an engagement at the International Festival Extasia. They have collaborated in concert with jazz musicians Jon Jang, Mark Izu, and Anthony Brown and the Asian American Orchestra as part of a major commemoration project on jazz and its effects on the Japanese-American internees of WW II.
Their 25th anniversary celebration in September 1998 featured an exciting and extensive collaboration with the Japanese companies KODO and Warabi-za, funded in part by a Meet the Composer commissioning grant. The company sold-out the 2000-seat San Jose Performing Arts Center for their 30th celebration. In recent seasons San Jose Taiko has toured and performed throughout the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountain States, the Southwest, the Midwest, New England, and the South, throughout California and to Hawaii.
Tickets for San Jose Taiko’s Rhythm Spirit are $20 for adults, $18 for NSU alumni, $16 for NSU employees, $14 for senior citizens, $10 for students and children, and $5 for NSU students. To purchase tickets, contact the NSU Box Office at (918) 458-2075. Ask about full season tickets to see all the shows at a discount.
San Jose Taiko will host a Taiko Drum Workshop on Monday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. at the NSU Center for the Performing Arts. The workshop is co-sponsored by JNSU.
Additional funding for the 22nd Annual Galaxy of Stars Series has been provided by the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
For more information on the Sequoyah Institute’s 22nd Annual Galaxy of Stars Series, visit www.nsuok.edu/si.