Brown Arts

In Return: A Community Taiko Concert

February 17, 2024
Rooted in Japanese drumming traditions and pioneered by transnational Asian and Asian American communities, taiko is now a global phenomena.

An IGNITE Series Campus Project

Curated by Gendo Taiko and the Student Activities Office

The Lindemann Performing Arts Center

Saturday, February 17, 2024, 7:00 PM

In Return: A Community Taiko Concert is the culminating performance of the East Coast Taiko Conference 2024, hosted by Gendo Taiko. Rooted in Japanese drumming traditions and pioneered by transnational Asian and Asian American communities, taiko is now a global phenomena. The pandemic has impacted the communal and historical ties within the taiko community, and this concert is a resurgence for taiko performers to gather and share the joys of taiko. Join us as collegiate groups, community-based groups, and professional performers and ensembles come together to reimagine taiko as an artistic and cultural form rooted in reciprocity and community power.

Online Program


In the News

About Brown & RISD Gendo Taiko

A group photo of Brown/RISD Gendo Taiko. They are having fun.

Gendo Taiko is a contemporary Taiko drumming ensemble centered around celebrating diasporic Asian identities. Consisting of students from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, the group plays across New England for events ranging from music festivals to small gatherings. As one of the earliest collegiate Taiko drumming groups established on the East Coast, Gendo Taiko was founded at Brown University in the Fall of 2004 by Raiki Machida (Brown ’07) and Joshua Goldner (Brown ’05). Today, Gendo Taiko continues to expand its repertoire through new compositions and collaborates with the greater Taiko community by hosting and participating in annual conferences and invitationals. Gendo Taiko is proud to be located in the Providence community and seeks to continue to use its platform to celebrate the Asian diaspora.

Joe Small
Joe Small is a taiko artist, choreographer (or ‘taikographer’), Assistant Professor of Dance at Swarthmore College, and director of Swarthmore Taiko Ensemble. Joe has lived nearly a decade in Japan to pursue taiko, including as a Fulbright Scholar and a Kodo apprentice. Since 2012 Joe has been a disciple of pioneering taiko artist Eitetsu Hayashi and sole non-Japanese member of his ensemble, Fu-Un no Kai. Joe has also been a guest artist for Australia's premiere ensemble Taikoz since 2015, appearing most recently in their 2023 season. Joe has created and performed taiko for a variety of productions involving contemporary dance, puppetry, theatre, and heavy metal -- as well as his original full-length works, Spall Fragments (2015-16), and Moontides (2023, a collaboration between Kizuna Dance and Swarthmore Taiko Ensemble). Joe has performed and taught throughout the USA, Japan, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Spain, and Switzerland. Joe is a 2005 graduate of Swarthmore College (BA, Dance) and a 2015 graduate of UCLA (MFA, Dance).  

Yuta Kato
Yuta Kato, a California native from a Japanese-speaking family, discovered his passion for taiko through Kagami-Kai, a local group. He began formal taiko training at San Francisco Taiko Dojo at age 10. Throughout his journey, he joined various taiko groups like UCLA Kyodo Taiko, Nihon Taiko Dojo, and professional ensembles like TAIKOPROJECT, ON Ensemble, and more. From 2007 to 2011, he lived in Japan to learn traditional Japanese music. In 2011, he coordinated the North American Taiko Conference and later served as Principal at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI) for nearly a decade. Currently, he freelances as a taiko instructor and performs with UnitOne.

Chizuko Endo
Chizuko Endo began her taiko journey with San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1978 then OEdo Sukeroku Taiko, the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, and Taiko Center of the Pacific. She is co-founder and managing director of Taiko Center of the Pacific, a school of traditional and contemporary taiko. Additionally, she teaches taiko in public and private schools as well as classes for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She has performed throughout the US and Japan, as well as in Canada, Europe, Argentina, Malaysia, and Australia. Chizuko was one of 18 female taiko players from North America and Japan selected to participate in the HERbeat taiko residency and concert. Her piece, Yamamba, featuring a mask she carved, was one of the pieces showcased in the unprecedented concert. In the numerous concerts she has produced, high-ranking taiko groups and musicians have been introduced, raising the awareness and appreciation for high quality taiko.

ManMan Mui
Yeeman “ManMan” Mui (they/them) is dedicated to artistic expression that centers cultivating connections that lead with compassion and honoring their truth as a Non-binary, Asian, Disabled multidisciplinary taiko artist. Most of their artistic and educational work is collaborative in nature. Fostering an inclusive, equitable, and creative community to unpack and heal from the trauma of being minoritized. ManMan has a significant body of curriculums that center physical and mental wellness, including Taiko Together, Rhythmic Flow Taiko - Parkinson’s Friendly Taiko Class, and Makoto Taiko Senior Program. Currently working as a Teaching Artist in Grand Vision Foundation’s Meet the Music Program that serves the minoritized community in South LA. ManMan co-created a neurodiversity advocacy school program titled “Listening into Silence” with taiko artist Carrie Alita Carter.

Chieko Kojima
Chieko Kojima first encountered Japanese folk dancing when she moved to Sado Island in 1976 to join Sado no Kuni Ondekoza. She went on to become one of Kodo’s founding members in 1981. In addition to her work with Kodo, she also has an active solo career that includes projects such as “Yukiai,” where she seeks out new encounters and collaborations with artists and taiko groups within Japan and throughout the world. Kojima is known for her original dancing style during Kodo’s taiko-based performances, which is best exemplified by her vivid portrayal of the goddess Ameno-uzume in the first season of “Amaterasu” in 2006. She became a Kodo Distinguished Member in 2012. In that same year, she traveled to Europe as a Japan Cultural Envoy from the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Kojima was the director of the annual concert series “Kodo Special Performances on Sado Island” for four years, starting from its inaugural season in 2012. In recent years, Kojima has been traveling the world to perform, collaborate, and lead workshops, sharing her extensive experience in dances that are deeply rooted in Japanese culture and powerful, feminine taiko drumming. She actively teaches her signature piece, Hana Hachijo, to taiko enthusiasts around the world, which combines dance and taiko into one graceful, powerful, uniquely feminine performance. In 2019, Kojima’s performance career 40th anniversary was commemorated with “Kodo Sen no Mai,” a spectacular concert where she took to the stage with the Kodo ensemble and special guest Shunsuke Kimura.

Jennifer Weir
Jennifer Weir is the Executive Director of TaikoArts Midwest, Artistic Director of Enso Daiko, and has been actively performing, creating, producing, and teaching taiko drumming for over 25 years. She is the producer and featured artist of the FINDING HER BEAT documentary film.

Michelle Fujii & Toru Watanabe
Unit Souzou Co-Directors, Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe, build creative, imaginative works while honoring the history and roots of the taiko art form. They met at Warabi-za, Japan’s foremost traditional folk dance troupe located in Northern Japan.  Michelle was awarded the prestigious Bunka-cho fellowship by the Japanese government, and Toru was a professional company member who appeared in six original musical productions and taught within Warabiza’s in-house residency program for youth. Through their 25 years of professional experience, both are recognized as relentless innovators in the North American taiko community. Their newest work, Constant State of Otherness, is a National Performance Network, MAPFund, and New England Foundation for the Arts funded project, which centers on the historical and divisive ways that othering has pervasively affected our communities.

Soh Daiko
Established in 1979, Soh Daiko was the first taiko drumming group on the East Coast of the U.S. and is based in New York City. The group performs a variety of original compositions and arrangements that, in addition to the drums, incorporate accessory instruments such as bamboo flutes, gongs, African shekere, and more. Throughout its 40+ years, Soh Daiko has received critical acclaim from The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Dance Magazine. The group has also been featured on Public Television’s Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and NBC’s Today Show, and with artists such as Korn, Rob Thomas, and Post Malone. Soh Daiko regularly performs at New York City cultural festivities such as Carnegie Hall’s Citywide Concert Series, Japan Day Festival in Central Park, various cherry blossom festivals, and many more in the tri-state area and beyond.

Young Park
Young was born in South Korea and immigrated to Boston Massachusetts when she was 7-years old. She began studying music (viola) at the age of ten, attending New England Conservatory, Prep Division and Walnut Hill School of Performing Arts. She attended Eastman School of Music and then transferred to Oberlin College, where she also studied modern dance. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Music from Oberlin College, she pursued further music and dance studies at University of Michigan, where she received her master’s degree. In 1992, she co-founded SAFMOD (Cleveland, OH), a multi-disciplinary performing arts group that focused on the creation of original dance, music and visual art. As Artistic Director of SAFMOD from 1993-2004, she created numerous original dance choreography, influenced by movement styles like Butoh, Contact Improv, capoeira and stilting. She joined RAW Taiko in 2007, became Artistic Director in 2017. She is also the Festival Director of Toronto Taiko Festival.

Kenny Endo
Kenny Endo is at the vanguard of the taiko genre, continuing to explore new possibilities for this ancient Japanese instrument.  A performer, composer, and teacher, Kenny is a consummate artist, blending taiko with original music through collaborations with artists from around the world.  In 2022, Kenny toured across the USA performing concerts, conducting workshops, and lectures.  He recently received the Hompa Hongwanji Living Treasures of Hawaii Award.  In January 2022, Kenny was awarded the United States Artists award.

Sumie Kaneko
Sumie Kaneko is a Japanese koto and shamisen player and vocal artist. In 2002 after studying Japanese traditional music at Tokyo National University of the Arts, Sumie moved to Boston and studied Jazz vocal at Berklee College of Music. She has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Blue Note NY, TED talk, Google, Getty Center, Boston Ballet, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is renowned for her ability to collaborate with a diverse array of visionary international artists and writers: Pulitzer Winner Paula Vogel, composer Evan Ziporyn, taiko artist Kenny Endo and Kaoru Watanabe, and American Ballet Theater principal dancers Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside. Sumie tours overseas as a cultural exchange artist. She has performed in over 20 countries. Also as an educator, she has lectured at large academic scenes including: Harvard University, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, and Aoyama Gakuin University as a renowned international artist.

Mark H Rooney
The world’s most dangerous half-Japanese, half-Scottish solo improvisational taiko artist” has been sharing taiko for over 25 years, creating performances, workshops and classes with an emphasis on connection, reaction and interaction. Mark has taught taiko to thousands of students and worked with dozens of groups in the U.S., Japan and Europe. He has taught workshops at the North American Taiko Conference, the European Taiko Conference, the Toronto Taiko Festival, and every East Coast Taiko Conference since the first one in 2011.

Karen Susan Young
Karen (Boston, MA) leads and performs with the trio KM2 (Karen with Mica Rose and Mel Taing) as well as facilitates several community based taiko projects including Older and Bolder and Taiko and the Parks. Her community based work expanded while serving as a Boston Artist in Residence for the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. She trained and performed as an original member of Odaiko New England under the founder Elaine Fong, then artistic director Mark Rooney from 1994-2009. She founded and directed the Asian women’s group, The Genki Spark from 2010-2020. Karen also collaborates on many taiko community projects including Taiko Margins (formerly Women and Taiko centering issues around gender) and Re-Imagining Taiko (addressing issues of racism). She is also the co-founder of the Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival, serves on the Advisory Council of TCA (Taiko Community Alliance), and has been an active leader building the North American Taiko Community since 1997.

Franco Imperial
Franco Imperial is a member of the Audition Process Class of 1998. He joined the Artistic Staff in 2000 and became Artistic Director in 2011. Franco has composed over 20 original works for SJT and has co-created and produced collaborations with artists such as Abhinaya Dance Company (“Synergy” which won the 2011 Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music/Sound/Text ), 5-time Grammy Award-nominee John Santos, NEA Heritage Fellow Danongan Kalanduyan, artist/teacher Dan Sabanovich, The Bangerz (Ji: A Common Pulse), Epic Immersive (Swingposium, Japantown Immersive), and Aswat Ensemble (Echoes Into The Future). He is a member of the Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute (MALI) and has led workshops for the North American Taiko Conference, European Taiko Conference, Intercollegiate Taiko Invitationals, and Calgary Taiko Gathering. In 2010 he became an Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) Apprenticeship Program recipient. In 2014 Franco was selected to be part of World Arts West’s NextGen Leadership Group for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. In 2019 he was selected by the City of San Jose Office Cultural Affairs to be a Creative License Ambassador. He has been selected as instructor for the 2019 Pacific Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit in Los Angeles, and a speaker on Audience Engagement in 2013 and 2019 at the Conferences in San Jose. Franco has honed San Jose Taiko's unique style and created a voice for the current generation while honoring the group's 50+ year legacy. He leads SJT in artistic projects that align with three pillars: performing art as a catalyst to move audiences from awareness to action; performing art as a way to foster connection, cultural understanding, and widespread creativity; and performing art as a way to open hearts and minds, building a more just and equitable society.

Stuart Paton
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, the founder of the first taiko group in North America (San Francisco Taiko Dojo), and he founded the Burlington Taiko Group in 1986 not long after settling in Vermont. His other hobbies include: reading sci-fi/fantasy/spy fiction, salsa and folkloric dancing, walking through marketplaces, yard sales, and antique shops, and composing new percussion pieces. He is also an active student, teacher, and performer of Cuban and Haitian congas and djembe.

Tiffany Tamaribuchi
Tiffany Tamaribuchi, an internationally recognized taiko master, has achieved a level of acclaim in trailblazing fashion. In the traditional taiko realm of Japanese born and trained male performers, she creates a new powerful voice with her multicultural heritage, youth, and feminine perspective. Ms. Tamaribuchi’s determination and perseverance, through long hours of grueling practice in her initial studies, transformed her sense of life’s possibilities, which she now does for others.

Co-sponsored by Brown Arts IGNITE Series, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, Taiko Community Alliance, TaikoVentures, Asano Taiko US, kaDON, Odaiko New England, and Taiko with Toni.


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