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Preview: Kodo ‘Evolution’ at Gateshead Sage
TAIKO PERFORMING ARTS ENSEMBLE RETURNS
TO THE UK IN 2018
Kodo One Earth Tour 2018: ‘Evolution’
Wednesday 7th February 2018
-First time Evolutionwill be seen outside
-Only five UK performances in Brighton,
Manchester, Canterbury, Birmingham and Gateshead
-Under the artistic direction of Kabuki star
-The colossal o-daiko drum returns to the UK stage
Kodo is one of the best known and most
influential taiko performing arts ensemble in the world and returns to the UK
in 2018 with the European premiere performances of Evolution.
Under the forward-looking
artistic direction of kabuki luminary Tamasaburo Bando, Evolution
showcases the creative development of Kodo, its past, its present and its
commitment to the future of taiko performing arts.
Evolution is presented under Kodo’s One Earth Tour banner and received its world
premiere in Tokyo in 2016. The five UK performances in Brighton, Manchester,
Canterbury, Birmingham and Gateshead between 30 January and 7 February mark the
production’s very first performances outside of Japan.
Based on Sado
Island in northern Japan, Kodo debuted at the Berlin Festival in 1981. Since then the internationally-renowned group
of taiko drummers has presented over 5,800 performances in 49 countries on five
continents. Kodo strives to preserve and reinterpret traditional Japanese
performing arts in productions that encompass energetic and physically-charged
ensemble drumming to smaller groups and soloists that feature authentic
percussion instruments alongside Western counterparts and song and dance.
the word ‘Kodo’ has two meanings: ‘heartbeat’, the primal source of all rhythm
- the sound of the great taiko is said to resemble a mother's heartbeat as felt
in the womb, and it is no myth that babies are often lulled asleep by its
thunderous vibrations; Kodo can also mean ‘children of the drum’ and is a
reflection of Kodo's desire to play the drums simply and with the heart of a
evening that spans over four decades of taiko, Evolution tells the artistic and creative development of Kodo as phrases
from signature pieces first heard in 1973 (performed under the name Ondekoza, the
group that later became Kodo) to new works created for the premiere in 2016
showcase the ensemble’s meticulously honed skills.
evening is KeiKei (2014) as the full cast of 15 performers take to the stage
playing okedo-daiko (barrel drums) placed over their shoulders allowing the musicians
to move amongst the reverberations. The versatility of this taiko drum is also showcased
in Phobos (2009), Mute (2013), and Kusa-wake (2013).
break from recent One Earth Tour productions, the gigantic o-daiko drum returns
to the stage in Evolution. Weighing 300
kg and measuring 140 cm in diameter, the flagship taiko drum is flanked by timpani
and bass drums and conjures up deep and powerful rhythms in O-daiko.
Act one ends
with Kodo's timeless signature piece, Monochrome
(1977) is by legendary composer the late Maki Ishii. Contrasting the simple yet
wild nature of taiko performance that is symbolic of Kodo’s direction today, the
next generation of musicians use a balance of raw power and skill and play the
shime-daiko, a high-pitched roped drum.
opens with Color (2009) which
utilizes the shime-daiko but in a completely different way. The performers put
down their drumsticks and experiment with different percussive sounds as they
tap the drums with their fingernails, rub the drums with their hands and throw
clusters of jingling bells onto the skins of the drums.
gender disparity often associated with taiko, Ake no Myojo (2012) raises the profile of female drummers as women
of the ensemble take to the stage in a taiko, dance and song performance. The
melodic bamboo flutes in Yuyami
(2013) follows and creates a sense of nostalgia that leads into a newer piece Ayaori (2016).
Rasen draws the evening to a powerful close.
Rasen features eight performers - the
main soloist playing a hirado (large flat) taiko surrounded by seven performers
on nagado (long) taiko, okedo (barrel) taiko and timpani. The octet produces
complex and precise rhythms and reveals the remarkable variety of drumming
techniques Kodo has perfected during its illustrious history.