At the second of the Yuba College public events series on February 15, I went in expecting to see enthusiastic performers and a wonderful show. I did not leave the theater disappointed whatsoever.
The show opened with musicians Michiyo Koga and Alan Johnson playing an almost mesmerizing song with the koto and bamboo flute. Relaxing to simply listen to the combined instruments, I could almost imagine myself in a chamber centuries past in Japan.
Then as soon as the Sacramento Taiko Dan began the first part of their performance, goose bumps rose on my arms and my excitement spiked. Every member on stage played in perfect synch as a whole with high spirits and great technique, capturing the praise of the audience without fail.
It was nearly a perfect evening of traditional Japanese music. I say nearly perfect, not because of any action by the performers or because they aren’t five star worthy, but because a common courtesy of theater was forgotten: someone forgot to silence their cellphone. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the cellphone went off twice (didn’t think to silence after the first time?). Sorry, but nobody wanted to hear an obnoxious Bruno Mars ringtone, and that if disturbed the performers, well they sure didn’t show it.
Overall, this show was definitely worth taking a Saturday night to come to Yuba College’s theater.I sincerely hope that the Sacramento Taiko Dan and two great musicians will perform here again in the future.
For those who couldn’t (or didn’t) want to make it to the second of Yuba’s public event series, you missed out on quite a show of traditional Japanese music. I’d like to take this article to help others appreciate the talent that was kind of enough to entertain in our very own theater.
The Sacramento Taiko Dan, founded in 1989, dedicates themselves to promoting awareness of cultural diversity and continuing the traditional styles in taiko drumming. The crafting of the drums used in taiko is also continued by Sacramento Taiko Dan, who boasts one of the largest collections of traditionally crafted instruments on top of that.
No stage is too small for this talented group, which consists of performers from both the community and an international team. Locations where the Sacramento Taiko Dan has performed include elementary and high schools, other community colleges, the State Fair, San Francisco’s Cherry Blossom Festival, and even UC Berkeley.
But not only did the show consist of taiko drums, the performance by Koga and Johnson entertained the audience with the Japanese Koto and bamboo flute. It was a treat to have these two renowned international musicians perform in addition to Sacramento Taiko Dan.
Koga has toured across the United States, Germany, Japan, having released several of her own albums of classical Japanese music. Her talents extend to singing as well as piano, and she has performed with other artists such as the Sacramento Symphony Orchestra.
Johnson, who played the bamboo flute, is just as accomplished. A professional clarinetist and conductor as well an expert in technology applied to exploring new music, he has built his career since the 1960s.
For the curious, here are a couple of descriptions of the songs played.
The start of show began with a piece called Rokudan, with Koga and Johnson introducing the koto and bamboo flute. As I understand, it started out as traditional chamber music, and is now played with other instruments besides the koto.
An intriguing one by the Sacramento Taiko Dan (which I personally had never seen before) was the kihachijo, where two women wearing kimonos play on opposite sides upon a single drum. Their movements were so coordinated that even a complete twirl in a kimono didn’t even come close to tripping up the rhythm.
I could go on, but it’s music that just has to be experienced and listened to. For a few more pieces to get an idea of how the show was like, try looking up Inazuma, Odaiko, Yomatsuri-bayashi (the taiko drums), and also Tegoto, or Haru no Umi (the koto).
Give a shout out and tell your friends that Yuba College had the fortune of all this artistic talent that came to us in just one show!
Note: This article was featured in The Prospector Spring 2014 edition