For over 30 years, the “samurai percussionists” of Kodo have explored the limitless possibilities of the traditional Japanese drum, the taiko. An international phenomenon, the company celebrates the 30th anniversary of their One Earth Tour at the Marin Center on Saturday, February 5th at 8pm. Kodo unites high-energy percussion, elegant music, dance, and the striking physical ability needed to sustain a precise yet powerful sound. Along with four new pieces to North America, the 2011 One Earth tour will see the debut of the youthful Kenta Nakagome on the group’s hallmark giant drum, the almost 900-pound o-daiko – a challenging, show-stopping instrument that demands both strength and tenderness.
In Japanese the word “Kodo” conveys two meanings: Firstly, “heartbeat” the primal source of all rhythm. The sound of the great taiko is said to resemble a mother’s heartbeat as felt in the womb, and it is no myth that babies are often lulled asleep by its thunderous vibrations. Secondly, read in a different way, the word can mean “children of the drum,” a reflection of Kodo’s desire to play the drums simply, with the heart of a child. Since the group’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo has given over 3300 performances on all five continents, spending about a third of the year overseas, a third touring in Japan and a third resting and preparing new material on Sado Island.
With there 2011 One Earth Tour, the group has nurtured a new approach to staging and set design, which brings the spirit of Kodo’s wooden rehearsal hall to the world’s stages. Instead of hiding drums until needed, most of the group’s instruments remain in view, much as they do in the wooden, ship-like hall where the group creates its pieces. It brings a fresh vigor to the performance, highlighting the simple but beautiful forms created by drum, musician, and empty space and drawing the audience into the Kodo community.
Their new album, Akatsuki, is set to release on January 22, 2011 and is an 11-track disc featuring brand new compositions as well as never-before-recorded stage pieces. The CD also features a new piece, Honoka, written to commemorate legendary artist Taro Okamoto’s centennial birthday. As a new release, the album comes with a Limited Edition Bonus DVD featuring behind-the-scenes footage of Sado and Kodo while the album was recorded. For more information visit www.kodo.com.
The performance will take place at the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags at Civic Center Drive in San Rafael. Tickets are $50, $40 and $25; Premium Seats – $65; Students 18 and under – $20; Bargain Seats – $20, Rows 26-34 and can be ordered through the Marin Center Box Office at 415-499-6800 or at www.marincenter.org