For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Karen Falkenstrom
(520) 481-8003

Ticket info: (520) 297-9133


The finale of the 2005 Showcase featured members of all four performing groups.


2nd Annual Showcase of Southern AZ's Japanese Drumming groups

in Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Tucson, AZ--On Friday, May 5, Odaiko Sonora in association with Rhythm & Roots, will host the 2nd Annual Southern Arizona Taiko Showcase at the Tucson Convention CenterÕs Leo Rich Theatre. Tickets are $17 in advance, doors open at 7:30pm and the concert begins at 8:00pm. Tickets are available at Antigone Books - 411 N. 4th Ave; CD City - Campbell & Glenn; and Enchanted Earthworks - Plaza Palomino, Swan & Ft. Lowell; online at, or by calling 800 594-8499.

The 2nd Southern Arizona Taiko Showcase will feature Arizona's two taiko groups, Odaiko Sonora (Tucson) and Fushicho Daiko (Phoenix) and their students; Tucson's odori (traditional Japanese dance) school's Suzuyuki-Kai Taikoza. This yearÕs special guest is Mu Daiko from Minneapolis.


"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, as part of daily life and rituals of the village. Priests used the drums to banish evil spirits and farmers played them to celebrate bountiful harvests. Samurai carried taiko into battle to bolster their courage and strike fear in the hearts of their enemies. Taiko conveyed the prayers of the people to their gods. In modern times the drums are still used in Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies, as well as in Kabuki theatre.

Rooted in the heart and spirit of Japan and the Japanese-American experience, taiko today is an evolving art form that is booming in popularity. Modern taiko traces its roots to 1950s Japan, when Daihachi Oguchi formed the first taiko "kumi," or group, Osuwa Daiko. The early North American groups formed in Japanese-American communities in the 1960s, in part as a response to a generation silenced by the U.S internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Today, taiko is a dynamic combination of musical drumming, vocalization and choreographed movement based on traditional Japanese styles and techniques. Currently, there are thousands of groups in Japan and almost two hundred in North America.Many of its leading taiko practitioners in this country are not of Asian heritage.


Odaiko Sonora

Founded in May 2002 by former members of MoGan Daiko, Odaiko Sonora is dedicated to bringing firsthand knowledge of taiko and the opportunities it presents for physical, mental, and spiritual growth to the communities of Southern Arizona. Odaiko Sonora consists of its Community Group, dubbed the Tucson Taiko Juku, a professional Performing Ensemble, and a Performance Ensemble Training Track for those who wish to pursue the art form more seriously. The group offers ongoing classes in taiko instruction, Master classes/performances by nationally and internationally known taiko players, and community/corporate workshops that can focus on team-building. history & culture, drum construction, and more. Odaiko Sonora was selected for the Arizona Commission on the Arts Roster in the fall of 2005, and is currently expanding its school residency program.

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 membersÑEsther, Tony Trapasso, Eileen Morgan, Marsha Robb, and Ken KoshioÑhave over 60 years of performance experience between them. Several members are 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.

Mu Daiko

Led by Artistic Director Rick Shiomi, Mu Daiko is the twelve-member professional taiko ensemble of Mu Performing Arts. Shiomi began his taiko career in the late 1970s with Katari Taiko in Vancouver. In the early 1980s he studied and performed

with the San Francisco Taiko Dojo under Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka. He also performed with Soh Daiko of New York and Wasabi Daiko of Toronto. He founded Mu Daiko in 1997 at the behest of a few eager students. The groupÕs first official public performance was at the LynLake Fair in Minneapolis followed by their first annual concert later that year. Since then, the group has performed yearly concerts featuring original compositions and has hosted such internationally renowned guest artists as Kenny Endo, the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, On Ensemble and Fubuki Daiko. Members have performed with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota. In July 2005, Mu Daiko was selected as one of only four taiko groups in North America to perform at the annual North American Taiko Conference in Los Angeles, CA. Text Box: The sound is immense, building in intensity, filling the air with wave upon wave of pulsating rhythm. The drummers become the physical embodiment of the sound, using their entire bodies to create the urgent sensation of a musical thunderstorm. 
ÑMinnesota WomenÕs Press
on Mu Daiko

Mu Daiko's performance style and original compositions are influenced not only by ShiomiÕs study with Tanaka Sensei and workshops with Kenny Endo, Hanayui, and Fubuki Daiko, but also by its parent company's theatrical aesthetic and its connection to Korean Mask Dance. Three of Mu Performing Arts' mainstage productions since 1999 have showcased a taiko-based subject and/or taiko performance. Mu Daiko performs over one hundred times each year for schools, community organizations, arts institutions and corporations. In addition Mu Daiko reaches hundreds of taiko enthusiasts through its ongoing taiko classes and elementary, secondary and college-level workshops and residencies.

About Mu Performing Arts

Founded in 1992 as Theater Mu, Mu Performing Arts is the foremost Asian American theater and taiko company in the Midwest. Recently, Theater Mu changed its name to Mu Performing Arts. This change reflects the artistic growth of the company, encompasses Theater Mu and Mu Daiko,  and remains true to Mu's core value of giving voice to the Asian American experience. Through the transformational power of their works, Mu Performing Arts successfully merges Eastern and Western, traditional and contemporary theatrical forms. Mu Performing ArtsÕ mainstage season includes three Theater Mu theatrical productions, one Mu Daiko concert, and several festivals highlighting new works, emerging directors and taiko artists. Outreach programs to schools, community organizations and corporations reach over 55,000 people annually and Mu Performing Arts offers residencies and classes to develop theater and taiko skills for adults and children in the Twin Cities. The meaning of Mu: Our Mu (pronounced "moo") is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese ideogram for the shaman/artist/warrior who connects the heavens and earth through the tree of life.

About Asian Pacific American Heritage Month


May is Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage MonthÑa celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Much like Black History and Women's History celebrations, APA Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill.

Congressional Bills Establish Celebration In June 1977, Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration.

APA Becomes Month-long Celebration
In May 1990, the holiday was expanded further when President George H. W. Bush designated May to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.