Japanese Drummers Thunder Into Socorro

SOCORRO, N.M. April 7, 2014 – Prepare to be amazed by the powerful mystic sounds and rhythms of ancient Japan when Taikoza takes to the stage at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center in a Performing Arts Series event at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 11.

Taikoza is the international touring Taiko group led by director Marco Lienhard on Taiko, shakuhachi and fue, along with a host of Taiko performers and dancers.

Taikoza-PAS-IMG 9409

Taikoza will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Macey Center on campus in Socorro. 



“Taiko” is a term used to describe a broad range of Japanese percussion instruments. It has a mythological origin in Japanese folklore, and appears to be a drumming style of Japanese origin introduced to Japan through Korean and Chinese cultural influence between 300–900 CE.

“We invite everyone in the Socorro community and beyond to experience the thunderous rhythms of the ancestral Japanese Taiko drums and the magical sounds of the bamboo flutes,” said Performing Arts Series Director Ronna Kalish, adding that among the instruments is a 100-pound Taiko drum.

Roughly translated, she said, Taiko means big drums, “and that’s an apt description of the performance, with its drums, powerful rhythms, and electrifying, room-thumping energy.”

Taikoza draws from Japan’s rich tradition of music and performance to create a highly visual show. With colorful traditional costumes and dynamic motion, Taikoza’s shows are immensely popular with audiences of all ages.

And that’s good news for PAS members, New Mexico Tech students and families interested in an inspiring evening of international-flavored entertainment at a cost far below what would be charged in metropolitan areas.

Drawing from Japan’s rich tradition of music and performance, Taikoza has created a new sound using a variety of traditional instruments. In addition to drums of assorted sizes, Taikoza incorporates the shakuhachi and the fue (both bamboo flutes) and colorful dances.

The shakuhachi is an end-blown bamboo flute with four holes in the front and one hole in the back. The root of the bamboo is used to make the flute, which was used by a Buddhist sect as a tool of Buddhist meditation.

The shinobue, or simply the fue, is made from one segment of thinner-walled bamboo, with a lacquered interior. It is part of the family of Japanese side-blown flute. The origins of the fue, as for most other Japanese instrument, are unclear, but the instrument usually has six to seven holes.

The group has toured internationally and has appeared on ESPN, NBC and the History Channel, among other national venues.

“Younger, or more contemporary music aficionados, will recognize Taikoza’s music, which is featured on Nintendo’s Wii game: Red Steel 1 and 2,” Kalish said. The group also has performed for the SUMO tournament at Madison Square Garden and tour.

Taikoza was formed in New York City by members of Ondekoza (the group that started the renaissance of Taiko in Japan in the 1960s and introduced Taiko to the world), and because of its roots in “the City,” the group has a strong presence on the East Coast.

Members also developed a very popular educational program, including a tour of Birmingham, Alabama-area schools funded with an NEA grant that the Birmingham International Festival had received.

Special guest Ichiro Jishoya graduated from the Music Performance Department at the Osaka University of Arts. He became a member of the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra, before joining the international Taiko group “Ondekoza,” and became its music director and leader.

In 1989, Jishoya left Ondekoza to start his own Taiko group; and, since 2002, he has performed as a soloist at 1,500 concerts in over 23 countries. Among the more prestigious venues on Joshoya’s resume are Boston Symphony Hall, Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, the Opera House of Amsterdam, and the Odeon of Herod Atticus theatre in Athens.

Ditto for the members of Taikoza, who have performed in a number of prestigious halls and locations such as Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, Suntory Hall, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall and House of Music, Osaka Festival Hall, Lincoln Center, Mount Fuji, Miyajima Temple in Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Hall in Hiroshima.

They have toured Russia, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Switzerland, Germany, France, Mexico, Belarus, Republic of Georgia, and many more countries.

“Again, I have to recognize our loyal PAS sponsors and season-ticket holders, without whom we could not offer high-level entertainment at the prices we do,” said Kalish. “We are humbly grateful for all our supporters who enable us to bring first-class performances to Socorro audiences.”

Sponsors for Taikoza are the New Mexico Tech Student Government Association (SGA), EMRTC, Socorro Insurance Mart, Inc., and El Camino Restaurant and Lounge.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for youth 17 and under, and are available at the N.M. Tech Cashier’s Office (second floor of Fidel Center), Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, Burrito Tyme Drive-up or at the door.

 – NMT –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech