Celebrating the beginning of a new season

Sounds of Japan finale

Combining Eastern and Western Music

Over the years, we've had a number of opportunities to play music with some talented musicians; these collaborations add an extra level of excitement for us, offering the chance to learn new material and to perform with new people in front of audiences who may not be familiar with taiko. This month, we were invited to join choral group Columbia Chorale as they celebrated the beginning of their 40th season with a special Sounds of Japan performance. For the event, the Chorale commissioned a new piece by Japanese composer Tomoe Seno, combining the voices of a 60-person chorus with the sounds of taiko, flute and piano.
The new piece, called Matsuri Genso (Festival Fantasia), mixes both Japanese and Western music styles. From the composer, "the choir and flutes create a ceremonial atmosphere, evoking the night before a Japanese festival... the sorrowful harmonies melt with people praying for and celebrating the future."

Rehearsing for Sounds of Japan performance with Columbia ChoraleAbove: Rehearsing Matsuri Genso for the first time as an entire group.

We learned the taiko portion of the piece before the event, but our first time practicing with the other musicians did not occur until the day of the performance. Artistic director Andrew Thalheimer noted that it was nerve-wracking to prepare for a piece without hearing all the parts, but for performing member Helena Converse, it was reminiscent of her time performing with her school's orchestra. Helena noted, "we only met weekly at most, so we regularly needed to go home and learn our part to a piece before coming back together to get to hear the whole thing." Fortunately everything came together during the rehearsal and we had a blast during the performance! 

Matsuri Genzo

It was a treat to be guest performers joining such a talented group of artists. We had a wonderful time and look forward to possible new collaborations to come!

Song Profile: Isami Goma / Tonbane

Written by Daihachi Oguchi

Isami Goma, or "running horses," is a popular piece performed in Japan and around the world. It was first written in 1961 by Daihachi Oguchi of Osuwa Daiko, using a melody adapted from a Suwa shrine's norito (prayer). It is said that the music conjures the feeling of wild horses galloping across the plain, celebrating and wishing the horses good fortune. Osuwa Daiko performed the song at the 1964 Olympic ceremonies in Tokyo, and again at Nagano in 1998.

Isami Goma was originally arranged to be played beta style, but after many years it was rearranged  for naname style (slant stands). Most of the lines are the same, but the style is drastically different, with the drums facing each other and players jumping in and out. The new arrangement is known as Tonbane Daiko, or "Jumping Taiko" and was performed at our group's 25th anniversary showcase here in St. Louis in 2011. An excellent demonstration of kumi-daiko, it is a fun piece to perform as well as teach to our beginning taiko students. 

Jeremy and Katie perform Tonbane

Upcoming Performances

SLAM Winter Celebrations
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Event Time: 1:00-4:00 PM
Performance: 2:15 PM
Saint Louis Art Museum - Farrell Auditorium
One Fine Arts Drive, St. Louis, MO
Free Performance

Dave Hanson's Gateway Karate Black Belt Graduation
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Event Time: 11:00 AM
Mehlville High School - Nottelman Auditorium
3120 Lemay Ferry Road
St. Louis, MO
We are a non-profit group that performs the art of taiko around the St. Louis area and the world.
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10734 Trenton Ave. | St. Louis, MO 63132
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St. Louis Osuwa Taiko · 10734 Trenton Ave. · St. Louis, MO 63132 · USA

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