Odaiko Sonora is Tucson's taiko, or Japanese ensemble drumming group. Serving southern AZ since May 2002, Odaiko Sonora is dedicated to increasing familiarity with and understanding of taiko in our community. We do this for over 100,000 people each year through classes and master workshops, performances, school residencies, teambuilding workshops and by producing concerts that included internationally acclaimed taiko artists.

SOUND, MIND, BODY & SPIRIT are the principles behind our teaching and playing. Our students and members strive to honor the traditions of taiko as they have come to us through our teachers, to honor our audiences through the artistic quality of our presentations.

View a complete history of Odaiko Sonora Gigs, an archive of past entries on our News/Performances web page.

Odaiko Sonora consists of:

  • Students in our Intro and All Ages Recreational Taiko (AART) classes
  • Community Group for those with a little to a lot of taiko experience who wish to continue learning and playing together. The CG has the opportunity to perform 5 or 6 times a year
  • Performer Understudy Practices (PUP) Sat. 12:30–2:15pm and Wed. 5:30–8:30pm for players to learn more challenging repertoire, in crease technical and performance skills. These players are given the opportunity to perform in approximately 15 performances a year
  • Performing Ensemble Members (PEM), the professional performing group, leading CG and PUP, and appearing in almost 50 gigs a year

The organization has one fulltime Director, a part time Assistant Director, and many volunteers, including a Board of Directors, costume designers/fabricators, drum builders, gig coordinators, merchandise handlers, numerous organizers and cooks and equipment haulers, and, of course, the students and players. Student dues go towards studio expenses, maintaining the equipment, and some travel and hospitality costs for performances and master classes.

Odaiko Sonora Members

image of Karen

Karen Falkenstrom

Known in school programs as "Lee sensei," Karen is co-founder and Director of Odaiko Sonora. She has studied with Tiffany Tamaribuchi, San Jose Taiko, and Shidara, and is a member of Tamarabuchi’s Jodaiko and North American Kasuga Onigumi. She is our lead taiko-builder. A 31-year veteran of nonprofit arts, Karen's honors include a 2008 YWCA Woman on the Move award, 2009 Pan Asian Community Alliance Woman of the Year, the prestigious Arizona Arts Award (2009), a 2014 Tucson Pima Arts and Business “Lumie" and ACA Artist Research & Development Grant. Karen has a BS in architectural design from UVA and MFA in creative writiing from U of AZ.

image of Nicole Levesque

Nicole Stansbury

Nicole received her Bachelor's Degree in Dance Education from the University of Georgia in 2003. She moved to Tucson shortly after to perform with OTO Dance and other groups, including New Articulations Dance Theater and Thom Lewis Dance. In 2005, she began playing taiko through a collaboration with Odaiko Sonora and OTO Dance. In addition to being a member of the Odaiko Sonora Performing Ensemble, Nicole is a member of Jodaiko and the North American Kasuga Onigum,i international taiko ensemblse led by Tiffany Tamaribuchi. As a Teaching Artist in Tucson Unified School District's Opening Minds Through the Arts program, Nicole brings dance and taiko to thousands of kids each year.


Nancy Hall


Sonya Evans


Rebecca Bushner


Tracy Baynes


Jane Pfeiffer


Holly Cluff


Liz Johnson


Nan Surufka


Doug Johnson


Tom Murray


Kate DeMeester


Terry Peppard


Kumiko Adamson


Hank Tusinski


Terry Peppard


Lindsay Lutman

  Board of Directors

  • Kathy Bender-Coin
  • Kerrie Green
  • Ali Boelts
  • Sydney Takagawa


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