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Dutchess County Arts Council Folk Arts Program presents a Childern’s Taiko Drum Concert

  |   March 22, 2011  |  Comment

The Dutchess County Arts Council Folk Arts Program and the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, in collaboration with the Mid-Hudson Japanese Community Association, present a concert of traditional Japanese taiko drumming for children on Saturday, April 9, 2011, 2:00pm – 2:30pm in the Pavilion at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum. The concert is free and open to the public.

What makes the April 9 concert for children particularly notable is that the musicians are themselves children. This special concert features 12-year-old Subaru Honge and 5-year-old Kazuma Ban. Subaru, who lives in Windham, NY, began playing Taiko in July, 2010. When possible, he takes lessons from Taiko Master Koji Nakamura, who visits the area every few months. Last summer Subaru took lessons with Ms. Akemi Imai, a member of the Los Angeles-based group Makoto Taiko. Subaru practices on his own and plays with other taiko musicians when possible. The younger performer, Kazuma Ban, is well on his way to being a remarkable taiko musician. He started playing when he was 2 years old, watching and imitating Master Nakamura. Perhaps it helps that Kazuma’s father, Kenji Ban, also plays taiko. Kazuma now takes lessons regularly, though he has had only a few lessons from Master Nakamura. These young musicians will play a selection of traditional and contemporary taiko drum pieces, showcasing both nagado-taiko (long-bodied, medium-sized; pictured here being played by Kazuma Ban) and shime-daiko (small-sized) drums.

“Taiko,” the Japanese term for “big drum,” generally refers to large or small drums used in Japanese classical music. In recent times, the term has come to refer to cylindrical or barrel drums, and to taiko drum ensembles. Struck with sticks or with bare hands, each drum’s tonal quality depends on its size and shape, the thickness and tightness of the head, the type of sticks used to strike the head, and each player’s technique. Learning taiko requires physical discipline, aesthetic sensibilities, and spiritual cultivation. Observing taiko playing is a multi-sensory experience as the taiko musician’s dramatic body movements and the dynamic rhythms stimulate both the eyes and the ears.

Taiko drumming was a vital feature of historic and traditional Japanese culture. Traditionally taiko drumming marked nearly every stage of the life cycle, from birth to death. Additionally, taiko drums were played in battle to rouse troops and intimidate enemies; they were also played for more celebratory occasions, such as alerting villagers of festivals and to awaken the rain spirits during rice harvest ceremonies. The precision and discipline required of taiko drummers is very Japanese; the capacity of taiko to engage and excite is universal.

The concert is free and open to the public. Museum admission is available and encouraged. Museum admission is $6.50 per person. The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie (right turn off Lower Main Street, downtown Poughkeepsie; adjacent to Waryas Park), overlooking the Hudson River. For further information, contact DCAC at 845-454-3222 or the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum at 845-471-0589, or visit these organizations’ websites at www.artmidhudson.org and www.mhcm.org.

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