April 5, 2010
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
Percussion masters drum up a Taiko storm at SRU
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. �- The award-winning Taiko Drummers of Japan will work to the beat of a communal drum when they perform April 16 during Slippery Rock University's Kaleidoscope arts festival. Audience members will be invited to participate in the finale, producing a percussive bang to remember. The group will perform at 8 p.m. in Swope Recital Hall.
"They're going to ask people to come up and teach them how to play the Taiko drum in a basic way for an all-encompassing piece that will involve as many people as possible," said David Glover, SRU associate professor of music who teaches percussion.
Taiko, Japanese for wide drum, lends traditional Japanese sounds with rhythms from Africa, Brazil and Latin America to create resonant syncopations. In general, Taiko are stick percussion instruments.
Glover said the group's appearance would give students and community residents the chance to see a premier ensemble. "Outside of New York City, Los Angeles and Hawaii, you're not going to hear groups that play music like this," he said. "The instruments are large and expensive. The playing techniques are very distinct."
Glover said the Taiko tradition blends percussion, a way of life and spirituality. "To do what they do takes a lifetime commitment," he said. "It's just as physical and spiritual to them as it is musical. Music is culture. They don't separate it like we do in the west."
The group stars drummers Ryo Shiobara and Takumi Kato, who also perform on a three-stringed Japanese instrument called a "shamisen." Shiobara has won many Taiko competitions in his 22-year career, including the Tokyo International Competition, the highest drumming award in Japan. He has performed in the U.S., Europe and Japan.
Kaleidoscope, from April 14-25, includes three other performances that will feature multicultural drumming. Latin Fiesta Performance, a Philadelphia-based ensemble that showcases Latin music, will perform at 8 p.m. April 15 in Swope Recital Hall; Nego Gato Afro-Brazilian Music and Dance Ensemble will interpret African-Brazilian music at 8 p.m., April 21 in Swope Recital Hall; and Wacongo African Dance Company from the Democratic Republic of Congo will perform at 8 p.m. April 22. This group performs traditional Central African dancing and drumming.
"We are very fortunate to have these four major styles of world music and drumming represented in a two-week period," Glover said. "This is a great opportunity to learn more about music and cultures."
The Kaleidoscope arts festival will offer dynamic programming with an international focus, including Caribbean, Native American, African, Brazilian and Japanese performance art. Music and dance concerts, student theatre, a Children's Day program and a life-size Kaleidoscope sculpture will enhance the sensory experience for attendees of all ages.
Parking is free, as are many of the events, including the April 17 Children's Day featuring a performance by the YouTube sensation "Pop Rocks." More than 100 SRU students majoring in music, dance and theatre will perform during the festival. For the complete schedule, visit http://kaleidoscope.sru.edu/.
Tickets for Taiko Drummers and the other three shows are $3, available at the University Union or by calling 724.738.4926.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.