Farewell to Manzanar

On Tuesday, September 18, we made our way over to the Corona Public Library for another installment of their “Prime Time” event (every 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7PM!).  They wanted something related to Japanese culture, hence a Japanese taiko group, since they are hosting many events related to the memoir, “Farewell to Manzanar.”

Our audience consisted of many children, parents, and community members.  One of our recent alumni, Christine, watched us too!  Our setlist included Nanohana, Mukashi Mukashi, Tatsumaki, Ichi Ji, and Kodama Jam.  After playing Tatsumaki, there was a chance for a follow-the-leader style audience participation.  Volunteers repeated a rhythm played by Warren, one of our members.  There were so many willing volunteers that we decided to have a third round, when we originally planned for only two!  Some were bold while others were shy at first.  Nonetheless, everyone seemed to have a fun time!

Initially, the thought of making so much noise in a library seemed weird, but we were glad to be welcomed and enjoyed playing for an attentive audience.  It was great to see the intense concentration of the children while they followed the leader, and the pure joy of hearing the sound of the drums by even the youngest kids.  During the performance, I overheard a young girl asking her mom if she can get one, referring to a taiko drum!  We were honored to be part of this educational experience and hope that we did our best in providing a good show and sharing our knowledge of taiko!…

Joint Practice with Jishin and Asayake

Group photo!

This last Saturday, we joined UCSD’s Asayake for a joint practice hosted by CSUN’s Jishin.  Unlike the joint practices I’ve been to where all the groups takes turns teaching then each group performs at the end, we were invited as guests to an actual Jishin practice!

The highlight of the evening was learning Jishin’s version of Matsuri, an open-source song available to the taiko community.  Many groups play a variation of this song, which includes a series of rhythms along with individual solos.  What was most interesting and notable was how they used a swing ji instead of the usual straight ji.  Using swing ji definitely enhanced the happy, energetic mood.  Also, we experienced what they call the “San Fernando Valley ji,” a funky, accented swing ji, which started off the song.

When Jishin’s members demonstrated their Matsuri before we began learning, I was reminded of how they carry such enthusiasm and play with so much strength and power.  I am always taken aback whenever I watch Jishin perform.

Once we finished learning, we input the individual solos for an almost hour-long Matsuri with 26 different solos!  Then we ended the practice after a more formal run-through.

I thoroughly enjoyed the new experience of being part of a different collegiate group’s practice.  It was refreshing to play taiko in an unfamiliar but comfortable setting.  I think I can speak for everyone when I say we all had a fun time learning a different version of Matsuri!  I was intrigued to see everyone’s distinct playing styles, especially during their solos; I was in awe of how such a large group of diverse people from different groups can be unified through taiko.  On top of that, it was great seeing old, and meeting new, friends!

Thank you Jishin for your wonderful hospitality and we hope to see you and Asayake again soon!…

A snapshot from Shizen

Taiko Gathering 2012

A snapshot of Shizen

Hello, this is Jennifer again!  Here is our first official post, long overdue, on our performance at this year’s Taiko Gathering!  On August 19, we trekked to JACCC Plaza in Little Tokyo for the 19th Annual Taiko Gathering, a part of the 72nd Annual Nisei Week.  To our surprise, we were the only collegiate group performing among a plethora of community groups.  But we saw many familiar faces from fellow collegiate groups and even some Senryu alumni!

Our performance featured four songs: Nanohana, Somang, Nagare Watari, and Shizen.  Somang, written by Cynthia Kim, and Shizen, written by Warren Macdonald, actually debuted this year during our annual Spring Concert.  We are thankful for this opportunity to showcase our new songs!

Our new directors this year, Audrey Tu and David McKnight, performed together during two musical transitions: a remix of Kyuubi No Kaze and a shamisen/clave piece.  Kyuubi No Kaze, a past Senryu song, was remixed just for this performance.  Also, David debuted his new shamisen, playing an excerpt of his new song, Journey of Dreams.

We had a fantastic time performing and hope that everyone enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm of all of the taiko groups that performed that day!

Thanks to Russell Takahara for taking the pictures!  For more pictures of our performance, feel free to visit our Facebook page!…