Wednesday, March 20, 2013


"Kodo, the taiko drumming pioneers from Japan’s remote and inspiring Sado Island, have powerful mastery over their instruments. It’s a power that can be tender or explosive, delicate or thunderous. Since they burst onto the world scene in 1981, the group has roused and moved audiences around the globe, performing in nearly every venue of note—from Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw to Carnegie Hall, from Disney Hall to Lincoln Center, from Paris’s Palais Garnier to the Berlin Philharmonie. Though steeped in tradition, Kodo turns traditional Japanese music into a stunning spectacle and a vibrant expression of artistic excellence.

The “Kodo One Earth Tour 2013: Legend” will stop on the UConn campus at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts.

Under the artistic direction of Japanese Living National Treasure and revered kabuki icon Tamasaburo Bando, the taiko performing arts ensemble is further refining its carefully considered stagecraft, combining the centuries-old techniques that Tamasaburo has absorbed from a lifetime on stage with the vigorous, joyful vision of taiko that Kodo has developed over the decades, a vision that extends beyond music into movement and costume.

“Nothing will prepare you for the 1,000-pound drum assault, the precise timing, or the wall of sound,” Time Out promises.

Based in Kodo Village on the traditionally cultural mecca of Sado Island, Kodo has thoughtfully transformed the percussive music of Japan’s rural festivals and rituals of harvest and renewal. The ensemble evokes the age-old celebrations of the agricultural cycle, yet pairs ancient pieces with new compositions by respected Japanese composers—from jazz pianists to kabuki masters—and by Kodo members. Their vision has inspired performing arts ensembles worldwide, including Blue Man Group, with whom Kodo recently collaborated on a piece that garnered an International Emmy Nomination. Founders of Cirque du Soleil traveled to Sado to learn from Kodo, incorporating elements into their classic piece, “Mystère.” Kodo has worked with musical greats from respected Chinese composer Tan Dun to Corsican vocal ensemble A Filetta, from the Tokyo Philharmonic to the Paris Opera. Whatever the source or inspiration, Kodo devotes long hours of intense rehearsal to each piece, demanding total commitment and profound creative drive.

The group unites this sharp focus with a dedication to a way of life; alongside rigorous rehearsing, members run long distances to train for the physical challenges of drumming. They raise rice using old hand methods, practice traditional arts like the tea ceremony, and build eco-conscious furniture. It is part and parcel of Kodo’s mission: To promote and develop Japan’s vibrant yet sometimes neglected traditions, roots inextricably entwined with an older way of life.

This way of life still persists on Sado. Lying many miles off of Japan’s western coast, the large island was once the destination for exiles, outspoken thinkers and artists deemed politically dangerous to Japan’s rulers. It became a quiet, artistic, isolated hub where tradition met the forefront of Japanese culture. Today, it retains many practices of an age lost in modern, urban Japan, from the old ways of brewing much sought-after sake, to celebrations of the harvest with masked dances and stirring drums.

Tamasaburo says of his vision for the tour, “In these days of tremendous challenge and difficulty, my aim is simply to create a performance that will transport the audience into an inspiring alternate reality, even if just for a brief spell.”

Jorgensen was named Best College/University Performing Arts Center in the Hartford Advocate Best of Hartford Readers’ Poll for 2013 and 2012, and was named a Reader’s Choice Winner by the Mansfield-Storrs Patch.  Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs."

Ticket prices are $40, $37 and $33 with some discounts available. For tickets and information, call the Box Office at 860.486.4226, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., or order online at Convenient, free parking is available across the street in the North Garage.

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