Thursday, May 9, 2013

Collegiate taiko

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to see Stanford Taiko’s annual concert, “On the Shoulders of Giants” Saturday night, followed by UC Berkeley’s Raijin Taiko’s annual concert “Kakera” on Sunday.

I’m not going to write a review of either show; that’s not the purpose of this post.  However, I will say that I enjoyed both concerts in different ways and for different reasons.  One was a little more like jazz and the other a little more like rock.

Aside from a couple of annual concerts, I get to experience a bit of collegiate taiko in the summer when we invite 3-5 of groups to play at San Jose Obon, but those shows are just a small taste of what a group has to offer.  It’s much like SJT playing a short festival set; it’s one facet of our performance repertoire.

I am amazed how much the groups can do with so much constant turnover.  I am inspired by the constant creativity – and even if the execution is not quite there, they are trying, pushing themselves past the fear that a lot of non-collegiate groups struggle with.

Their song transitions are often silly, which can work for or against them, but transitions are a tricky thing and again collegiate groups often do what most groups would never dare to.  Also, their audiences are often full of friends and college students, which make for a different vibe than other taiko shows.

It’s great that there are more and more college taiko groups popping up and annual gatherings of said groups are no longer only limited to the West Coast.  As time goes on, I find myself meeting more and more collegiate players and am always thrilled when they transition into groups after college, even if it’s not with us, ha!  ;)

If you get a chance, check out what nearby college groups are up to and support them as best you can.  Many of the people who are playing in collegiate groups now will be the leaders and founders of groups in the future!  And if there aren’t any collegiate groups around you, find them on YouTube and spread the love!

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