March 25, 2005
For immediate release

Event focuses on Southern Arizona's Japanese Drumming groups

Tucson, AZ--On Friday, May 20, Odaiko Sonora in association with Rhythm & Roots will host the first Southern Arizona Taiko Showcase at the Berger Performing Arts Center, ASDB. Tickets are $14 in advance, doors open at 7:30pm and the concert begins at 8:00pm. Tickets are available at Antigone Books - 411 N. 4th Ave.; Brew & Vine - Oracle & Ina; CD City - Campbell & Glenn; and Enchanted Earthworks - Plaza Palomino, Swan & Ft. Lowell; or online at www.rhythmandroots.org.

The first Southern Arizona Taiko Showcase will feature Arizona's two professional taiko groups, Odaiko Sonora (Tucson) and Fushicho Daiko (Phoenix); Tucson's traditional Japanese Dance School's Suzuyuki-Kai Taikoza; and the Odaiko Sonora community group, Tucson Taiko Juku. The special guest stars from Sacramento Taiko Dan, include Tiffany Tamaribuchi, one of the country's premiere performers and instructors of taiko.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Taiko: the artistic, powerful, and physically demanding discipline of ensemble drumming. "Taiko" is the Japanese word for drum, and refers to both the instrument and the art form. Taiko began in ancient Japan as a form of communication for troop movements and village activities. Because of its importance in the rituals of daily life, it grew to become sacred, and its use in Shinto and Buddhist religions as well as Kabuki theater continues into modern times. Taiko has since developed into a performing art that traces its roots to the 1950s, when Daihachi Oguchi formed the first taiko "kumi," or group, Osuwa Daiko in Japan. Just 50 years later, taiko is booming worldwide: testament to the universal appeal of these powerful drums. Early North American groups began in the Japanese-American community in the 1960s, in part, as a voice with which to respond to the Japanese internments of WWII. Since then, approximately 150 North American Taiko groups have emerged, and many people who play taiko now do not have any Asian heritage.

THE PERFORMERS

Odaiko Sonora
Odaiko Sonora strives to uphold and expand the instruction and performance of taiko, the artistic, powerful and physically demanding discipline of Japanese ensemble drumming. Through performances and workshops, we hope to increase understanding of taiko and the opportunities it presents for physical, mental, and spiritual growth throughout Southern Arizona. Its student/community group, the Tucson Taiko Juku, will also perform. Read more at www.tucsontaiko.org

Fushicho Daiko
Fushicho Daiko was founded by Esther Vandecar in Phoenix, AZ soon after her return to the U.S. from Japan 1992. The groups current members—Esther, Tony Trapasso, Eileen Morgan, Marsha Smith, and Ken Koshio—have over 60 years of performance experience between them. Esther is listed on the ACA Artist Roster, and the group regularly conducts school residencies and workshops, along with leading youth taiko classes. The group performs over 50 times annually, and has become a feature at Japanese-themed events throughout the Phoenix valley.

Suzuyuki-Kai Taikoza
Founded by Mari Kaneta in the late 1980s, Suzyuyuki-Kai is a classical Japanese dance (odori) ensemble of the highest caliber, and the only such ensemble in Southern Arizona. Several of the dancers have spent 2-7 years studying taiko, and have formed a taiko-za, or ensemble, within the dance company. They combine odori with live taiko drums for a truly traditional Japanese heritage-based performance.

Tiffany Tamaribuchi
Tamaribuchi has toured with Za Ondekoza and was a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall in 1994. She has studied and performed widely throughout Japan, Europe and the US, and is now one of the most highly sought after and respected Taiko workshop facilitators in the United States. In 2002, she was the first woman and first North American to win the Ota-i-ko Hibike Zenkoku Ippon-uchi (All-Japan Odaiko Competition) and was a finalist in the first Tokyo International Odaiko competition the same year.

Sacramento Taiko Dan
Sacramento Taiko Dan, founded in 1989, is the premiere Japanese drumming ensemble in the greater Sacramento region. Its performers include community members and an international touring performance team. The combination of renowned drummers and outstanding drums enables them to provide audiences with world-class entertainment.

###