Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kodo comes to Michigan

Friday, February 13, 2009, 8 pm
Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
University Musical Society

The first time I saw Kodo perform was at Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley in the mid-eighties, trying (hopelessly) to impress a handsome Japanese graduate student. I soon forgot the graduate student sitting next to me as I was taken in by the power and the rhythm of the drumming. And OH! Those muscles! That was one of the first international tours of Kodo, when the drummers were still actually fishermen. I remember the MC, a young Asian American woman, whooping it up over an 87-year-old grandpa’s incredible muscles. I have since become a fan of San Jose Taiko, and the newer younger styles of California Taiko, but I still see Kodo whenever I can.

In ancient Japan, the taiko drum was a symbol of the rural community, and it is said that the limits of the village were defined not by geography, but by the furthest distance from which the taiko could be heard. With its “One Earth” tour, Kodo brings the sound of the taiko to people around the globe, transcending barriers of language and custom and reminding all of our membership in that much larger community, the world. “In this age of exploding populations and lightning-fast communication, it is more important than ever that these diverse cultures learn to recognize and accept each other so that all may share our increasingly shrinking planet in harmony,” according to Kodo’s primary philosophy. The Japanese characters of the company’s name convey two meanings: “heartbeat,” the primal source of all rhythm, and “children of the drum,” a reflection of Kodo’s desire to play their drums simply, with the heart of a child.

The ensemble makes its first University Musical Society appearance since 2005.