KAHULUI - Zenshin Daiko's annual Taiko Festival is expanding to two concerts - one in Central and one in West Maui - and will headline with two California Japanese-style drumming troupes and iconic taiko drummer Kenny Endo.
The 12th annual Taiko Festival Concert Series will be held June 11 at its familiar confines at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. On June 18, the festival will move to a new venue, the Maui Theatre, home of "'Ulalena," in Lahaina. Both concerts start at 7 p.m.
Kagami Kai, based in San Francisco, will play the first night of the series; Stanford Taiko, which includes Maui Taiko's Mitchell Fukumoto, will perform at the west side show. Endo also plays in the Lahaina show and has a duet with former Zenshin Daiko performer Preston Jones, who is currently a music student at Lawrence University in Wisconsin and the son of the group's founders, Anthony and Valerie Jones. The duo will play "Symmetrical Soundscapes" written by Endo.
American taiko icon Kenny Endo will be performing on the second night of the Zenshin Daiko Taiko Festival Series on June 18 at the Maui Theatre in Lahaina.
KEN BERRY photo
Trained as a jazz musician, Endo drifted to taiko in the 1970s, first with Kinnara Taiko and then with San Francisco Taiko Dojo, the first taiko group formed outside of Japan, Endo's website said. He spent a decade in Japan studying and performing and became the first non-Japanese to earn a natori, or stage name, in hogaku hayashi, or classical drumming; his name is Mochizuki Tajiro.
His music has been heard around the world in his five CDs of original compositions, in movies "Apocalypse Now" by Francis Ford Coppola, "Picture Bride" by Keyo Hatta and "Avatar" by James Cameron; and in concert opening for The Who.
Endo has been working with Zenshin Daiko performers for a dozen years. In addition to the duet with Jones, he will play a solo on the odaiko, or "big drum."
"A performer, composer, and teacher of taiko with numerous awards and accolades, Kenny Endo is a consummate artist, blending Japanese taiko with rhythms influenced from around the world into original melodies and improvisation," the news release about the event said.
Sharing the stage with Endo on June 18 will be Stanford Taiko, a college performing ensemble of students from Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. It is a student-run group under the university's Department of Music and faculty advisers Steve Sano and Linda Uyechi. All the music is composed by the students.
Stanford Taiko was founded 1992 by Ann Ishimaru and Valerie Mih after being inspired by a class taught by Susan Hayase, a former San Jose Taiko member. San Jose Taiko master drum maker Mark Miyoshi helped the group build its first drum and set the taiko group off and playing the beat. Stanford Taiko has taken its rhythmic sound around the world to such places as Japan, China and England and is the only college taiko ensemble to play at Taiko Jam, a showcase concert for taiko in North America.
Zenshin Daiko's Anthony Jones said he has been trying for years to get Stanford Taiko to join the Maui Taiko Festival, but there always had been scheduling conflicts - until this year. Although they have not played at a Maui festival, Stanford Taiko and Zenshin Daiko have established ties. The college group came to Maui in 2003 to learn drum-building from Zenshin Daiko.
Opening the festival will be Kagami Kai, which was formed over mochi.
"We were founded 20 years ago when a few of us missed the taste of fresh mochi, so we decided to start making it ourselves," the group's website said. "We have evolved from a group of friends missing the flavors of home to a performing group dedicated to preserving the community, traditions and camaraderie of mochi tsuki."
The 40-member Zenshin Daiko group of youth drummers will be playing the first night as well. Three original pieces, written by Zenshin Daiko performers, will be played.
Zenshin Daiko is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to teaching taiko to children and sharing the art of taiko with the community. Since forming in 1999, the group has performed at nearly 600 cultural and community events, including some on the Mainland and in Japan.
Tickets for each night's performance are $20 for adults and $10 for children age 12 and under and may be purchased at the box office of the venue of the performance. Tickets also may be obtained by calling the MACC box office at 242-7469 or by going to the website mauiarts.org for the first night's tickets and the Maui Theatre box office at 856-7973 for the second night's tickets.
* Zenshin Daiko, www.zenshindaiko.org/