Soh Daiko 40th Anniversary Concert
Saturday, June 22 at 2:00 p.m.
Miller Theater at Columbia University – 2960 Broadway at 116th Street
Admission: $30 in advance/$35 at the door
Taiko is the Japanese word for drum. Developed out of ancient agricultural rites and the music of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, taiko was used for ritual entertainments and festivals to summon gods and spirits, to drive away evil forces, and to give strength and courage to warriors. In North America, kumi daiko, or group drumming, took root in the late 1960s in Japanese American communities in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
It took a little longer for the drumming tradition to reach New York, but Soh Daiko, the first taiko drumming group on the East Coast, will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a concert at Miller Theater.
The Young Buddhist Association saw a taiko group from Chicago perform at an Eastern Young Buddhist League convention, and it inspired them to create a group of their own. Established in 1979 under the guidance of the New York Buddhist Church, Soh Daiko celebrates an appreciation of Japanese and Japanese American heritage; the development of Japanese-American taiko music; as well as a desire to learn about the history, tradition, and values of taiko.
With a small grant from the Church, membership chairman Mamoru “Mo” Funai and adult advisors Jim Moran and Merle and Alan Okada started the group and learned to make barrel drums, which are still used by the group in performance today.
Of the 81 members who make up Soh Daiko’s history, the current performing troupe numbers about 9, all with diverse backgrounds and professions. The group has steadily increased its varied repertoire to include traditional compositions from Shinto music tradition, adapting existing taiko compositions, and original arrangements and compositions by its own members. Much more than mere percussion, Soh Daiko’s presentation also features the visual element of movement and choreography, requiring physical strength, endurance, and energy that makes taiko such an exciting performance experience.
Featured photo by Kim Nakashima