Kris began his taiko career as a member, composer, and leader of the
university group, Stanford Taiko. He then spent 3 years in Japan
where he studied and performed traditional dance within the Wakayagi
school, kumidaiko with Nihon Taiko Dojo, and nagauta shamisen with
Kineya Katsuyukie, from whom he received his natori (professional
stage name) in 2008. Kris is an advocate for free culture, releasing
all of his compositions under a copyleft license. His current work
focuses on slant-drum technique and choreography.
Stuart Paton, Founder and Artistic Director of Burlington Taiko spent most of his childhood in Japan, from age nine months through eighteen years. His earliest exposure to taiko included a first-grade fascination with the drums at an Obon celebration in Tokyo, and learning “Matsuri Daiko” from the composer of the score for his high school drama production. His formal study of taiko began in 1984 during a summer apprenticeship with Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka. Stuart founded the Burlington Taiko Group in 1986 not long after settling in Vermont. He has been playing Congas longer than Taiko, and teaches Haitian and Cuban drumming as well as Djembe. Paton Sensei has established an artistic style for Burlington Taiko that combines movement, rhythm, voice, and the efficient and graceful movement of chi, or “energy,” from the player to the drum. His affection for the group dynamic of taiko is evident both when he performs at the most advanced level, and when he instructs the most novice players.
Shoji Kameda is a Grammy Nominated musician and one of North America’s most gifted taiko artists. In his 26 years of experience he has become known as a talented composer, musician and producer with the imagination to take an ancient art form into new realms. In 2006 he was selected through a highly competitive process as an Asian Pacific Performance Exchange fellow, collaborating with master artists from the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the USA. He produced On Ensemble’s critically acclaimed album Dust and Sand and composed an original score for Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story, Audience Award winner for Best Documentary at the 2006 Slamdance Film Festival. In 2007 Shoji was invited to Malaysia as a guest artist for “Qadim” a production at the Nation Arts Academy. He was featured in the music of the hit NBC TV show Heroes performed with Stevie Wonder at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. In 2009 he was selected as a fellow for the UCLA/Indonesia Arts Education Residency Program and spent a month teaching taiko to disadvantaged youth in central Java. Later that year he traveled to Mongolia as part of the Khoomei Taiko Ensemble an international collaboration that brought leading Japanese, American and Mongolian musicians. In 2010 he was nominated for a Grammy Award as a member of Hiroshima for his work on the band’s “Legacy” album. In 2011 he formed an electronic music duo called Stereo Alchemy with two time Grammy winning composer Christopher Tin. Their debut album is due out in early 2012.
Jennifer Milioto Matsue (B.A. Wellesley College and M.A. and Ph.D. University of
Chicago), is an ethnomusicologist specializing in modern Japanese music and
culture. She has conducted research on a variety of music cultures in contemporary
Japan including the Tokyo hardcore rock scene, nagauta (a type of traditional
chamber music featuring the three-string lute, shamisen), electronica and trance
raves, and most recently, the increasingly popular world of wadaiko (Japanese
ensemble drumming). She is interested in how performers find meaning through
participating in such music worlds, with a particular focus on women’s roles
in music-making. She is the author of the monograph Making Music in Japan’s
Underground: The Tokyo Hardcore Scene (Routledge 2008), as well as several
articles on related topics. She is working on a new book, which explores the
transformation of tradition through the commodification of Japanese ensemble
drumming in Kyoto, Japan. She is Director of the Asian Studies and World Musics
and Cultures Programs, and serves as Associate Professor in Music, Asian Studies,
and Anthropology at Union College in Schenectady, New York.
TAIKOPROJECT was founded in 2000 in Los Angeles, California by a group of young, emerging taiko drummers. They were seeking to create a truly American style of taiko, blending traditional forms in which they were raised, with an innovative and fresh aesthetic approach to the Japanese drum. In just 11 short years, they have garnered critical acclaim from all over the world and amassed an impressive resume.
TAIKOPROJECT first made waves when they became the first American taiko group to win the prestigious Tokyo International Taiko Contest in 2005, beating out all the Japanese taiko groups in attendance. That same year, they were cast in the Mitsubishi Eclipse commercial, the first and only national ad campaign to prominently feature taiko. They followed that up with performances in some of America’s highest profile events, including the 2009 Academy Awards and the 2011 Grammy Awards.
TAIKOPROJECT has performed and recorded with some of the world’s most well-known musical artists, including Stevie Wonder, Usher, rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, A.R. Rahman, John Legend, rapper Xzibit, Kanye West, Vicci Martinez, producer Squeak E. Clean, Greek singer Antonis Remos, DJ Tiesto, and girl band Blush.
Mark H. Rooney
Mark was a performing member of Odaiko New England (Boston, MA) since 1998 and on staff full-time since 2004. At the start of 2008, he became the Artistic Director, succeeding founder Elaine N. Fong. Recently, Mark moved to Washington DC where he continues to pursue taiko as his vocation.
Thanks to a large number of supportive friends and colleagues, Mark’s diverse taiko background has been an extraordinary experience, which he now brings to our nation’s capital. He has had the extreme privilege and joy of working with (on and off stage) some of today’s most renowned taiko performers, including KODO, Marco Lienhard (Taikoza), Tiffany Tamaribuchi (Sacramento Taiko Dan), and Kaoru Watanabe (KODO, KWTC Ensemble)
As a performing artist, Mark’s credits span multiple continents and multiple genres. While living in Wakayama, Japan from 2000-2003, Mark performed with a number of local taiko groups, including Shippu Uchi Daiko and Kiishuu Ryujin Daiko. He has also performed widely in Europe and the United States as a touring member of Marco Lienhard’s Taikoza. As a composer, Mark has produced original taiko pieces for several groups, including signature pieces “Kashmir” , “Senryu” and “Shin-en”. Mark has also collaborated with other artists and musicians such as Marshall Hughes (Opera Unmet) and jazz trumpeter Tiger Okoshi (Yamaha Artist and Berklee College of Music Professor). Mark’s experience as a performer also extends to elements of production and stagecraft, which has been reflected in Odaiko New England’s self-produced concerts “Crossroads”, “Transformations” and “reVISION”.
Although Mark is a dynamic and talented performer, his true passion lies with teaching taiko. After joining ONE’s staff in 2004, Mark became the principal architect and instructor for ONE’s widely successful classes and workshops. Mark also taught an after school program at Concord-Carlysle High School and has designed and led residencies at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, the Allston Boys and Girls Club and the Roxbury Community College Summer Arts Intensive program for youth. He was also the founding instructor for Wesleyan University’s popular and ever-expanding taiko program for five years.
Mark’s own training comes from a wide range of dynamic teachers including Eiichi Saito (KODO) and Ryo Shimamoto (Shippu Uchi Daiko), the both of whom he humbly models his own teaching style after.
Shawn Bender is a cultural anthropologist in the department of East Asian Studies at Dickinson College. Prof. Bender has strong interest in Japanese music and performance. He is the author of a forthcoming book on Japanese taiko drumming groups entitled Taiko Boom (2012, UC Press), and he has also conducted field research on music education reform in Japan. More recently, he has broadened the scope of his research to examine intersections among science, technology, and policy in contemporary Japan, particularly the development of robotics technologies for use by the aged and infirm. At Dickinson, he teaches courses on contemporary Japanese society and popular culture.
Born into a musical family, Maz started playing taiko at age 6 under the tutelage of his parents and professional taiko players, Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer. He also studied with Kenny Endo and lived in Japan studying shinobue. In his twenty-six years of studying, performing, and teaching, Maz has become one of the most respected taiko players in North America. He has toured the United States, Japan, Macau, and Germany and has recorded with many of North America’s leading taiko artists. He now resides in Los Angeles playing On Ensemble and TAIKOPROJECT. Maz is also sought after as a teacher and workshop leader and serves as lead instructor to several Los Angeles-based taiko groups.
KAORU WATANABE is a practitioner of various Japanese traverse bamboo flutes, the taiko drum as well as Western flute. His music can be best described as an ever shifting blend of the folk and classical traditions of Japan with contemporary improvisational and experimental music.
In 1997, after graduating from the Manhattan School of Music with a BFA in jazz flute and saxophone performance and performing with New York’s Soh Daiko, Kaoru moved to Japan and joined the internationally renowned taiko drum ensemble Kodo. Based in Sado Island in the Niigata prefecture, Kaoru toured across the globe with Kodo, performing the taiko, traditional Japanese folk dance and song, and fue (bamboo flute) such as the noh kan, ryuteki and shinobue. From 2005 to 2007, Kaoru served as one of Kodo’s artistic directors, focussing on their world music festival Earth Celebration. During this festival, he directed shows that combined music, dance, and visual arts, featuring such luminaries as Zakir Hussain, Giovanni Hildalgo, Carlos Nunez, jazz pianist Yosuke Yamashita and casts comprised of West African stilt dancers, tap and contemporary dancers, traditional Japanese folk dance, live calligraphy, break dance and capoeira. Also during and since his time with Kodo, Kaoru worked closely with legendary Kabuki actor Bando Tamasaburo. In late 2006 Kaoru left Kodo and returned to NY to teach and continue performing fue, western flute and taiko in a variety of musical and artistic settings. Recent performances have taken him across the US, Canada, Japan, France, Mongolia, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad, Honduras and French Guiana.
Kaoru has and currently teaches taiko and Japanese music at such institutions as Princeton University, Colby College and Wesleyan University as well as his own school in Brooklyn, the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center. Recent performances have included performances with Kenny Endo, Kiyohiko Semba, Jason Moran, Kaneko Ryutaro, On Ensemble, Adam Rudolph, Alicia Hall Moran and others.
MILES ENDO, musician and industrial designer, has played taiko since the age of 3. He was a member of Taiko Center of the Pacific Youth Group, Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, and leader of Brown Gendo Taiko (a collegiate group based at Brown University in Providence,RI). He had performed in Japan, Europe, and across the USA. Miles also plays Western drumset and djembe and performs with contemporary Hawai’ian bands as well as performs as a disk jockey at local venues in Providence, RI and Honolulu, HI. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011 with a BFA degree in Industrial Design with an emphasis in Furniture Design. Miles has also started making Taiko drums and stands for commission since 2009. website:http://studioendo.blogspot.com
One of the leading personas in contemporary percussion and rhythm, KENNY ENDO is at the vanguard of the taiko genre, continuing to carve new territory in this Japanese style of drumming. A performer, composer, and teacher of taiko, he has received numerous awards and accolades, including very special recognition in Japan—he was the first foreigner to be honored with a “natori,” a stage name, in Japanese classical drumming.Kenny Endo was a featured artist on the PBS special “Spirit of Taiko” in 2005. He has performed for such musicians as the late Michael Jackson and Prince, opened for The Who, performed a duet with singer Bobby McFerrin, and is featured on the soundtracks for Kayo Hatta’s film “Picture Bride”, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”, and James Cameron’s “Avatar”. He has had a day named for him in by the Mayor of Honolulu “Kenny Endo Day”, and was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts for American Masterpieces. Kenny Endo is a consummate artist, blending Japanese taiko with rhythms influenced by his jazz background and by collaborations with musicians from around the world. website: http://www.kennyendo.com
Roy and PJ Hirabayashi
For the past 39 years, Roy and PJ Hirabayashi have founded and cultivated San Jose Taiko
(SJT) into international status. Beginning as only the 3rd taiko group to form in the United
States in 1973, Roy and PJ, guided and developed a distinctive, contemporary, Asian-
American sound that fuses traditional taiko rhythms with musical and cultural influences from around the world. Until their semi-retirement in mid-2011, Roy was the Executive Director and PJ was the Artistic Director.
Since the inception of SJT in 1973, Roy has been one of the composers, performing member and creative force behind San Jose Taiko. He directed collaboration projects between SJT and other artists/groups and initiated the Audition Process training and Junior Taiko programs. His primary instrument is the shinobue, the Japanese bamboo flute.
Roy has toured with Kodo and Ondekoza, two of Japan’s renowned professional taiko.
Continues to participate as a workshop/panel discussion leader and as chairperson of the
Executive Committee to the Taiko Conference Advisory Council. He was a judge for the
International Taiko Contest in Tokyo in 2005 & 2006. He is also a founding member of KASA (Kodo Arts Sphere of America), a past board member to the Western Arts Alliance (WAA), First Voice (a multicultural arts coalition), and Artsopolis and is currently the president of the Japantown Community Congress of San Jose. Roy is one of the founders of 1st ACT (Arts, Creativity & Technology) and a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum of Silicon Valley and the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute. Roy is a recipient of the Creative Connections grants from Meet the Composers in 2006.
PJ Hirabayashi is the Artistic Director Emeritus of San Jose Taiko. Considered a pioneer of
North American taiko, she is recognized in the international taiko community for her distinctive performance and teaching style that combine movement, dance, drumming, fluidity, joy, and energy. She helped develop and codify SJT’s unique style and holistic philosophy, which is emulated and modeled by other taiko practitioners and taiko organizations around the globe. She has been a performing member, instructor, costume designer, and composer for SJT.
Recent collaborations include Triangle Project (Nobuko Miyamoto, Yoko Fujimoto), Kabuki
Cabaret (Brenda Wong Aoki, Mark Izu), and Butoh (Judith Kajiwara). Her present work is
TaikoPeace, an extension of Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion. She is a certified
Peace Ambassador and recent recipient of the Arts Council of Silicon Valley Fellowship for
Music Performance. She has received the Pacific Asian Women’s “Woman Warrior Award in the Arts” and the Santa Clara County Women’s Fund Award in the Arts.
Under Roy and PJ’s leadership, SJT has received numerous awards including the Foreign
Minister of Japan Commendation Award in 2010 for sharing the Japanese culture in the
US through their taiko work. They were invited to Washington DC to be awarded the 2011
National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, a lifetime honor in
Traditional and Folk Arts.
Stephen M. Sano is Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at Stanford University. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in both orchestral and choral conducting from Stanford, and a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and theory from San Jose State University. Dr. Sano has served on the conducting faculty of the Wilkes University Encore Music Festival of Pennsylvania, and frequently appears as guest conductor of the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra in its collaborative concerts with the Stanford Symphonic Chorus.
A dedicated teacher at Stanford, Professor Sano was recipient of the 2005 Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. He has studied at the Tanglewood Music Center and is in frequent demand as a master class teacher, conductor, and adjudicator in choral music. To date, he has taught master classes and conducted festival, honor, and collegiate choirs from over 20 states as well as choirs from Germany, Austria, England, Canada, Australia and Japan.
He is also active in his ancillary fields of interest, Hawaiian choral music, the music of Queen Lili’uokalani, ki ho’alu (Hawaiian slack key guitar) and North American Taiko (Japanese American drumming). Professor Sano’s seminars in North American Taiko (co-taught with CSRE Affiliated Faculty member Linda Uyechi) and ki ho’alu are cross-listed between the Department of Music and the CSRE course offerings.
As a slack key artist, his recordings have been nominated as finalists for the prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano Award (the Hawaiian Grammy) and the Hawaiian Music Award. Dr. Sano’s recordings can be heard on the Arsis Audio, Pictoria and Stanford labels (choral) and the Daniel Ho Creations label (slack key guitar).
Linda Uyechi is a lecturer in the Music Department with research interests in taiko, language in the Asian American community, and signed languages. Her current focus is on the history and development of taiko in North America. She teaches the introductory seminar Perspectives in North American Taiko and is faculty advisor to Stanford Taiko with Steve Sano.
She holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Stanford where she has taught courses exploring the role of language specifically in the Asian American community (Language and Identity: Asian American Voices) and in U.S. ethnic communities (Voices in America).
Uyechi is a former member of Stanford Taiko (1992-1996) and San Jose Taiko (1996-1999) and is Director of Summer Taiko at Stanford and member of the advisory board for the North American Taiko Conference. She also holds a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering and merges her social science and engineering interests by consulting in the Valley on linguistic software applications for text search.
Deborah Wong is an ethnomusicologist, specializing in the musics of Thailand and Asian America. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. (1991) from the University of Michigan, where she worked with ethnomusicologist Judith Becker; her B.A., magna cum laude (1982), in anthropology and music, is from the University of Pennsylvania. Her first book, Sounding the Center: History and Aesthetics in Thai Buddhist Ritual (Chicago University Press, 2001), addresses ritual performance about performance and its implications for the cultural politics of Thai court music and dance in late twentieth-century Bangkok. Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music (Routledge, 2004), focuses on music and identity work in a series of case studies (Southeast Asian immigrant musics, Chinese American and Japanese American jazz in the Bay Area, and Asian American hip-hop). She has taught at UCR since fall 1996 and is Professor of Music. Wong has taught as Assistant Professor of Music at Pomona College (1991-93) and at the University of Pennsylvania (1993-96); she was a visiting professor at Princeton University and the University of Chicago. Wong is very active in the Society for Ethnomusicology. She has served on its Board of Directors for three consecutive terms as Secretary (199-2001, 2001-03, 2003-05) as well as on the SEM Council (1992-94). She was president of the SEM Mid-Atlantic Chapter (1994-96), and served as co-editor of the SEM Newsletter with René T.A. Lysloff from 1994-99. She founded the SEM Committee on the Status of Women with Elizabeth Tolbert in 1996. Asian American issues and activities are a priority for Wong. She has served on numerous committees addressing issues in Asian American studies curriculum as well as Asian American student needs. She has studied Japanese American drumming (taiko) since 1997 and is a member of Satori Daiko, the performing group of the Taiko Center of Los Angeles. Her book in progress will address taiko in California. Born on the East Coast, Wong is now an enthusiastic Californian. She self-identifies as Chinese American (third generation), as multiethnic, and as Asian American.
Alan Okada and his wife Merle are founding and performing members of Soh Daiko,
the first taiko group on the east coast. Founded in 1979, Soh Daiko has supported
the growth and development of community based taiko groups and been supported
in turn by the extraordinary community of taiko leaders, teachers and groups in Japan
and North America. Soh Daiko has performed in venues as diverse as Sesame Street,
MTV, Carnegie Hall and the United Nations, and with artists that included Kodo, Korn,
Kanye West and the Muppets. Most importantly, Soh Daiko has performed for local
Obons, community festivals and celebrations every year since it was created.
Alan chairs the Kodo Art Sphere America (KASA) board and has served on the advisory
committee of the North American Taiko Conference since the first conference in 1997.
Until his retirement from the corporate world in 2011, he served as the vice president
of the Citigroup Foundation, vice chairman of the Advisory Council of the Leopold
Kronenberg Foundation in Poland, treasurer for the Asian American Arts Alliance, and
as a member of both the International Committee of the Council on Foundations and the
Corporate Advisory Committee of the American Red Cross.
Canadian multi-percussionist Patrick Graham has been called a “master improviser on percussion” who “…stands on the border of several forms of traditional and creative music, embracing the world of rhythm as a whole” (Le Devoir). His playing synthesizes a dizzying array of influences, from Japanese percussion, Mediterranean frame drumming, Indian and Irish rhythms to an ongoing fascination with new and found sounds. Patrick has performed, toured and recorded with numerous Canadian and international artists including Autorickshaw, Small World Project, OktoEcho, Norouet, La Nef, Trichy Sankaran, Ben Grossman, On Ensemble, Kaoru Watanabe, Ganesh Anandan, Peter Herbert, Carlo Rizzo, Kohei Nishikawa, and Tetsuro Naito, as well as dancers Hideo Arai, Geneviève Martin and Tomomi Morimoto. He is also active as an instructor, and has conducted workshops in Canada, the USA, India, Japan and China. In 2009, Patrick released his first self-produced solo CD, ‘Rheō’, featuring genre-bending original music for an array of percussion instruments and a number of outstanding guests: Ben Grossman, Debashis Sinha, Nicholas Williams, Kaoru Watanabe, and On Ensemble. The recording was picked as one of the top 13 albums of the year by the CBC Radio 2 program ‘The Signal’. Patrick Graham is an endorser of Cooperman Drums.www.patrickgrahampercussion.com
Su Zheng is Associate Professor of Music, East Asian Studies, and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Director of Graduate Studies in Music, and Coordinator for Wesleyan’s East Asian music ensembles, including the Chinese music ensemble, Korean drumming ensemble, and taiko ensemble. She is also a Visiting Professor at Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China and Special Researcher of the Anthropology of Music Division of E-Institutes of Shanghai Universities.
She majored in musicology at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, received her MA in Musicology from New York University, and Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University.
She taught at Harvard University and Yale University as Visiting Professor. A former member of the China Broadcasting Bureau Traditional Instruments Orchestra and the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York where she performed as a gehu player, she conducted fieldwork in the U.S. and China on Chinese American music activities, and women and gender in Chinese music. She is the author of Claiming Diaspora: Music, Transnationalism, and Cultural Politics in Chinese/Asian America (Oxford University
Press, 2009) and lectures in China frequently. Her articles have appeared in Diaspora, The World of Music, CHINOPERL, Asian Music, Yearbook for Traditional Music, Journal of Women’s History, People’s Music, Chinese Music, and the Journal of the Central Conservatory of Music, among others. She is also a contributing author to both the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. She was awarded the ACLS/CSCC (Committee on Scholarly Communication with China) National Program for Advanced Study and Research in China Fellowship. She served on the Wesleyan University Press Advisory Board, Editorial Board for the journal Meridians—feminism, race, transnationalism, and Editorial Board for the Ethnomusicological Video for Instruction and Analysis (EVIA) Digital Archive.
She was also a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and National Endowment for the Arts.