San Jose Taiko was an exciting, educational and energizing Valentine’s Day gift to the audience gathered for Music @ Noon at Santa Clara University (SCU). Five San Jose Taiko players took the stage of the Music Recital Hall to demonstrate Japanese drumming and share its history, philosophy and techniques interactively.
“It was so informative and exciting to hear the drummers. They explained the history and philosophy behind their instrument and the music techniques. And they invited audience members to come on stage and experience playing the drums,” said Santa Clara resident and SCU graduate Mary Jeanne Oliva, attending her first Music @ Noon concert.
“The goal of our drumming is to release positive energy into the world,” the players told the audience—as opposed to venting frustrations or anger (and breaking the drum in the process).
Taiko is the Japanese word for “drums,” and San Jose Taiko (SJT), now one of more than 500 taiko groups in the U.S., was founded 45 years ago in 1973 as only the third taiko group to form outside of Japan.
SJT players demonstrated the four principles of SJT style: mental attitude of respect and discipline, kata—the way players use their bodies when playing, musical technique, and ki, defined as “the intangible life force energy that connects all things.”
Kata is how players smile, stand, move, hold their arms and the “batchi” (drum sticks), and how they strike the drum. They demonstrated their musical techniques for loud and soft beats, fast and slow.
Then they recruited volunteers to come on stage and practice what they had just learned. The 50-minute program, which seemed to end all too soon, closed with a piece that loudly and energetically fulfilled its title: “Living in the Present.”
Catch the last three free Music @ Noon, 50-minute concerts of the quarter Wednesdays at SCU: Feb. 28 – “La Voix Humaine” opera with Malinda Haslett performing Francis Poulenc’s one-woman show; March 7 – World Music Ensemble with SCU student performances featuring Balinese Gamelan (an ensemble of Indonesian musical instruments); and March 14 – Student Performances.
“I’m very happy I came and am looking forward now to finding out more about the series and coming again because they book a variety of performances. And it’s free!” said Oliva.
For information about Music @ Noon and other SCU music, drama and film performances, visit www.scupresents.org. Sign up to be on the mailing list. For information about SJT, including classes, visit www.taiko.org and look for them on Facebook.