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November 21, 2013

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World Percussion Night: A Visit to Japan and Beyond

Since 2001, BGSU students have been beating Japanese drums in the centuries-old taiko style. This year they will perform once again in the annual World Percussion Night on Dec. 4 in Kobacker Hall. Both the Hayabusa and Kaze No Daichi Taiko groups will perform, along with the Balinese Gamelan and the Afro-Caribbean Ensemble.

The free performance begins at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center.

Kaze No Daichi, or “Land of Wind” in Japanese, is a student organization, whereas Hayabusa, which means “falcon,” is a one-credit music course.

“To be a member of Kaze No Daichi, students must take Hayabusa Taiko first, then audition for Kaze,” according to Kathryn Dobbs, a three-year taiko veteran. “Kaze No Daichi performs quite a few shows throughout of the year,” aside from World Percussion Night, their biggest show, she added. “We have performed at ArtsX, the World Student Association International Dinner at BG, Black Swamp Arts Festival … an international dinner in Toledo and of course, Animarathon,” where Dobbs first saw Kaze No Daichi perform three years ago.

In addition to World Percussion Night, Hayabusa Taiko performs at BGSU’s Ohanami, the annual Japanese cherry blossom festival, and for the Kiwanis Club of Bowling Green. This December they will perform at the Toledo Museum of Art.

Tia Anderson of Hayabusa Taiko enjoys playing pieces written by her classmates. “Autumn Halls’s piece is really dance-y and show-y. I always like pieces like that,” Anderson said.

The other two pieces to be played at World Percussion Night, “Shinka” and “Matsuri Battle,” are both high energy and will “dig into your brain and stay there,” she added. “Most taiko is like that, though. If you have heart problems it's best not to see taiko performances live, especially pieces like ‘Shinka.’ By the end you'll find that your heart was beating in time with the drums!”

According to Allison Eckardt Merrill, Hayabusa Taiko director, “There are always a bit of nerves, performing on stage in front of a large audience, but we have been working hard and are excited to perform.”

“We start practicing the second class meeting and then continue throughout the rest of the semester,” Anderson explained. “Because we play the songs so much, you just focus on having fun and playing the song come show time. We play around with what looks best beforehand, of course. We always want to make the formations aesthetically pleasing and dynamic.”

“Once World Percussion Night comes, nerves are high for all groups,” Dobbs acknowledged. “It may be the first time that we have ever performed a song in front of a crowd so that’s really nerve-wracking — even more so for the person who wrote the piece. One time we did yoga for a full hour,” she said, remembering how the group calmed its nerves before a show.

Despite the jitters, the taiko groups are ready to perform on Dec. 4.

 

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