Anyone can hit a drum, but almost no one can hit them like members of San Jose Taiko.
San Jose Taiko, the nation’s original and foremost Japanese drumming group, is playing Sunday in the Vilar Performing Arts Center.
San Jose Taiko is also part of the Vilar’s STARS (Support The Arts Reaching Students) series. On Monday, the Vilar folks will bus in hundreds of local students to see the group perform. The show is one of the Vilar’s STARS educational performances; STARS stands for Support The Arts Reaching Students.
What is Taiko?
Taiko is the Japanese word for drum. In North America, the term is used to describe both the Japanese drum itself and the art form of kumidaiko (ensemble drumming with Japanese drums).
Taiko as an art form has been around for thousands of years, said Yurika Chiba, one of the performers with San Jose Taiko.
Taiko can be functional. Priests used it in ceremonies and it was used to send messages during warfare — any time you needed to make yourself heard above the din.
It began as a performance art form in the 1950s. San Jose Taiko was the third troupe in the United States, founded in 1973. San Jose Taiko also became one of the first American Taiko ensembles invited to tour Japan.
San Jose Taiko incorporates lots movement and choreography, Chiba said. Players are a combination of a musicians and dancers, with lots of martial arts thrown in.
“You can be loud. The drums are huge and when you hit them, they make a powerful sound,” Chiba said.
The Sunday night performance is a full concert.
At Monday’s STARS sessions in the Vilar, performers will explain what’s going on and why. A few lucky kids will get to go on stage.
“You can’t help yourself when you see this drum. You want to hit it,” Chiba said.
San Jose Taiko does all kinds of classes and seminars for all kinds of people through its San Jose Taiko Conservatory.
“With each season of STARS, we are delighted to not only offer cultural enrichment to our local students, but educational and entertaining material that is free to the schools and on a level of quality consistent with our regular season ticketed performances like San Jose Taiko,” said Kris Sabel, executive director for the Vilar Performing Arts Center.
The STARS series is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation. It’s designed to promote artistic, educational and cultural enrichment to local students with in-school workshops and daytime shows at the Vilar. Each year, the Vilar Performing Arts Center provides free transportation and tickets to more than 6,000 Eagle County students
As part of its annual Underground Sound series, the Vilar Center partners with seven different nonprofits in the valley. This week it’s United Way of Eagle River Valley. Some of the money from merchandise sales goes to the local charity.
The Vilar’s Underground Sound series was created to help fans discover new music from several up-and-comers on the scene to established artists you may not know.
The seven-show series runs through mid-November.
The rest of the series rounds out like this:
Sunday – San Jose Taiko
Oct. 20 – Lee DeWyze
Oct. 27 – Solas: Shamrock City
Nov. 3 – Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
Nov. 10 – David Wilcox
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.