Program Books/Kodo: Tsuzumi

Kodo One Earth Tour
Tsuzumi

Saturday, February 4, 2023, 8pm
Sunday, February 5, 2023, 3pm
Zellerbach Hall

Funding made possible by the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation.

Run time for this performance is approximately 2 hours, including intermission.

From the Executive and Artistic Director

Jeremy Geffen

We move now into the busiest time of the year at Cal Performances, with a schedule that offers a nearly nonstop celebration of the very finest in the performing arts.

This month alone, we welcome our great friends at the Mark Morris Dance Group for the Bay Area premiere of Morris’ latest, The Look of Love, a fresh and heartfelt homage to the chart-topping songs of Burt Bacharach. We’ll also hear classical masterworks from audience favorites, cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han; a particularly far-ranging concert from the extraordinary pianist Jeremy Denk; well-loved solo works by J.S. Bach coupled with new compositions by the best and brightest voices in contemporary music from the insightful young violinist Alexi Kenney; and a bold selection of new music by UC Berkeley composers from the university’s own Eco Ensemble.

Add to that performances with Kodo, Japan’s ever-popular and soul-stirring taiko drummers; an evening with NPR’s Ira Glass sharing new stories and reflections from his decades-long career; an afternoon conversation with the legendary Rita Moreno discussing her fascinating life in Hollywood; and a rousing program with the virtuosic dancers of Washington DC’s celebrated Step Afrika! troupe as it continues and extends the long tradition of stepping—elaborate and joyful song and dance rituals performed by Black fraternities and sororities since the early 1900s.

And that’s just our schedule for February. In March, two events deserve special attention: the return of the legendary Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Christian Thielemann (making his Bay Area concert debut), and the US premiere of revered South African artist William Kentridge’s astonishing new SIBYL (part of a major campus-wide residency with this singular artist; for more, see Thomas May’s excellent article on Kentridge, beginning on the next page).

Upcoming Illuminations programming will continue to take advantage of Cal Performances’ unique positioning as a vital part of the world’s top-ranked public university. As we’ve done all season long, we’ll be engaging communities on and off campus to examine the evolution of tools such as musical instruments and electronics, the complex relationships between the creators and users of technology, the possibilities enabled by technology’s impact on the creative process, and questions raised by the growing role of artificial intelligence in our society.

This concept of “Human and Machine” has never been so pertinent to so many. Particularly over the course of the pandemic, the rapid expansion of technology’s role in improving communication and in helping us emotionally process unforeseen and, at times, extraordinarily difficult events has made a permanent mark on our human history. Throughout time, our reliance on technology to communicate has—for better and worse—influenced how we understand others as well as ourselves. During this Illuminations season, we will investigate how technology has contributed to our capacity for self-expression, as well as the potential dangers it may pose.

Some programs this season will bring joy and delight, and others will inspire reflection and stir debate. We are committed to presenting this wide range of artistic expression on our stages because of our faith in the performing arts’ power to promote empathy. And it is because of our audiences’ openness and curiosity that we have the privilege of bringing such thought-provoking, adventurous performances to our campus. The Cal Performances community wants the arts to engage in important conversations, and to bring us all together as we see and feel the world through the experiences of others.

Please make sure to check out our brochures and our website for complete information about upcoming events. We can’t wait to share all the details with you, in print and online.

Thank you for joining us at Cal Performances!

Jeremy Geffen
Executive and Artistic Director, Cal Performances

Jeremy GeffenWe move now into the busiest time of the year at Cal Performances, with a schedule that offers a nearly nonstop celebration of the very finest in the performing arts.

This month alone, we welcome our great friends at the Mark Morris Dance Group for the Bay Area premiere of Morris’ latest, The Look of Love, a fresh and heartfelt homage to the chart-topping songs of Burt Bacharach. We’ll also hear classical masterworks from audience favorites, cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han; a particularly far-ranging concert from the extraordinary pianist Jeremy Denk; well-loved solo works by J.S. Bach coupled with new compositions by the best and brightest voices in contemporary music from the insightful young violinist Alexi Kenney; and a bold selection of new music by UC Berkeley composers from the university’s own Eco Ensemble.

Add to that performances with Kodo, Japan’s ever-popular and soul-stirring taiko drummers; an evening with NPR’s Ira Glass sharing new stories and reflections from his decades-long career; an afternoon conversation with the legendary Rita Moreno discussing her fascinating life in Hollywood; and a rousing program with the virtuosic dancers of Washington DC’s celebrated Step Afrika! troupe as it continues and extends the long tradition of stepping—elaborate and joyful song and dance rituals performed by Black fraternities and sororities since the early 1900s.

And that’s just our schedule for February. In March, two events deserve special attention: the return of the legendary Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Christian Thielemann (making his Bay Area concert debut), and the US premiere of revered South African artist William Kentridge’s astonishing new SIBYL (part of a major campus-wide residency with this singular artist; for more, see Thomas May’s excellent article on Kentridge, beginning on the next page).

Upcoming Illuminations programming will continue to take advantage of Cal Performances’ unique positioning as a vital part of the world’s top-ranked public university. As we’ve done all season long, we’ll be engaging communities on and off campus to examine the evolution of tools such as musical instruments and electronics, the complex relationships between the creators and users of technology, the possibilities enabled by technology’s impact on the creative process, and questions raised by the growing role of artificial intelligence in our society.

This concept of “Human and Machine” has never been so pertinent to so many. Particularly over the course of the pandemic, the rapid expansion of technology’s role in improving communication and in helping us emotionally process unforeseen and, at times, extraordinarily difficult events has made a permanent mark on our human history. Throughout time, our reliance on technology to communicate has—for better and worse—influenced how we understand others as well as ourselves. During this Illuminations season, we will investigate how technology has contributed to our capacity for self-expression, as well as the potential dangers it may pose.

Some programs this season will bring joy and delight, and others will inspire reflection and stir debate. We are committed to presenting this wide range of artistic expression on our stages because of our faith in the performing arts’ power to promote empathy. And it is because of our audiences’ openness and curiosity that we have the privilege of bringing such thought-provoking, adventurous performances to our campus. The Cal Performances community wants the arts to engage in important conversations, and to bring us all together as we see and feel the world through the experiences of others.

Please make sure to check out our brochures and our website for complete information about upcoming events. We can’t wait to share all the details with you, in print and online.

Thank you for joining us at Cal Performances!

Jeremy Geffen
Executive and Artistic Director, Cal Performances

About the Performance

Our 2021 North America tour was postponed due to the pandemic, so we have been looking forward to sharing this program with you all for a long time. Thank you for your patience and encouragement. We hope today’s performance will uplift you and bring you joy.

In Japanese, the word “Kodo” holds a double meaning. It can be translated as “heartbeat,” the primal source of all rhythm. However, our group’s name is written with different characters, which mean “drum” and “child.” This reflects Kodo’s desire to play the drums with the simple heart of a child.

To commemorate our 40th anniversary in 2021, we created two new touring productions based on our name: Tsuzumi takes its name and theme from the drum character, and Warabe from the child element. Tsuzumi, the first work, opens with a very special piece in our ensemble’s history that is seldom performed on tour—Dyu-Ha. The late Maki Ishii, a modern composer who was introduced to Kodo by conductor Seiji Ozawa, presented this piece to Kodo as a gift to congratulate our ensemble on its debut in 1981. We will perform Dyu-Ha on this tour for the first time in North America since 1989. Today’s program also features Ishii’s masterpiece Monochrome and other Kodo signature pieces such as O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi, and Zoku, coupled with new compositions.

Join us as we trace our group’s origins back to the beginning, to reflect on our history and reaffirm what continues to shape Kodo today.

Director’s Notes

Kodo One Earth Tour: Tsuzumi is the first production in a series of commemorative works we created for Kodo’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 2021. The inspiration and theme of this work is our home base, Sado Island. With its lush nature and distinct history, this special place has been the starting point for Kodo’s diverse local and international activities for the past four decades. Our projects are constantly guided by three words that underpin our mission—living, learning, creating.

Since early 2020, countless lives have been impacted by the effects of COVID-19. These circumstances have been very difficult for Kodo to navigate as a group, and we are still grappling with concert postponements and cancelations. But we have remained optimistic as we press on with our work, using this time to reflect on our group’s history. All of us at Kodo were brought to Sado, this remote island in the Sea of Japan, by the captivating resonant tones of the taiko. People on Sado live in close proximity to nature, which affects and informs their everyday activities. Here, through the wide range of performing arts and festivals held on the island, we can feel the living, breathing origins of all creative pursuits.

The reverberations of taiko awaken the power of heaven and earth. Conjured and honed on Sado, Kodo’s sound is like no other.

I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy this performance and the visceral sound of Kodo’s taiko. We will give it our absolute all on stage, hoping you feel our joy and gratitude in each and every beat.

Tsuzumi is the first of two Kodo 40th-anniversary touring productions; Warabe is the second. Together, these works will serve as cornerstones for Kodo’s next innovative chapter. Thank you for celebrating our past, present, and future with us through these works.

Yuichiro Funabashi
Director/Kodo Ensemble Leader

About the Performers

Exploring the limitless possibilities of the traditional Japanese drum, the taiko, Kodo is forging new directions for a vibrant living art-form. Since the group’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo has given over 6,500 performances on all five continents, spending about a third of the year overseas, a third touring in Japan, and a third rehearsing and preparing new material on Sado Island. Kodo strives to both preserve and re-interpret traditional Japanese performing arts. Beyond this, members on tours and research trips all over the globe have brought back to Sado a kaleidoscope of world music and experiences that now exerts a strong influence on the group’s performances and compositions. Collab­o­ra­­tions with other artists and composers extend across the musical spectrum and Kodo’s lack of preconceptions about its music continues to produce startling new fusion and forms.

Sado Island
Since 1971, Sado Island has been Kodo’s home and the platform from which the group reaches out to the world. With nature’s warm embrace evident in each of her four seasons, Sado is an extraordinary place where traditional ways of life and the island’s indigenous performing arts still thrive today. This island is the fountain of inspiration for Kodo and the guiding force behind the group’s creative lifestyle. The artists’ goal is to find a harmonious balance between people and the natural world. Each time Kodo ventures off the island, the ensemble encounters new people, customs, and traditional performing arts that are ingrained in the lifestyles of each locale. Both similarities and differences prompt Kodo members to pause and reflect upon the importance of the varied and rich cultures that color our world. These life lessons permeate each performer’s skin and become an invisible source of their expression. It is through this process of living, learning, and creating that Kodo cultivates a unique aesthetic and sensitivity, reaching out toward a new world culture rooted in the rich possibilities of a peaceful coexistence between humanity and nature.

Kodo Cultural Foundation
Thanks to the support of many friends, the Kodo Cultural Foundation was established in 1997 in order to increase Kodo’s capacity for outreach projects on Sado Island. Its primary mission is to carry out nonprofit activities focused on social education and the notion of giving back to the local community. Kodo Cultural Foundation is committed to the cultural and environmental preservation of Sado Island and oversees many ambitious projects. From the conservation of local habitats to the revitalization of rare craft traditions and Noh theaters throughout Sado Island, the highly collaborative Kodo Cultural Foundation supports many vital initiatives. Its activities include holding workshops, planning the annual Earth Celebration music festival, creating a research library, managing Kodo Apprentice Centre and Sado Island Taiko Centre, and carrying out research in the performing arts.

Call for Support
Kodo’s activities have been greatly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and we need extra support as we navigate the ongoing restrictions and disruptions to our usual touring and events. If you are able to make a donation to help us continue our mission, we will gratefully accept any amount you can spare. Your contribution will help us to continue our ongoing One Earth Tour, so that we can keep connecting people all over the world with the sound of taiko.

To make a donation, or for other ways to help, please visit https://www.kodo.or.jp/en/callforsupport.

Website: www.kodo.or.jp
Facebook: @KodoHeartbeat | Twitter: @KodoHeartbeatEn | Instagram: @KodoHeartbeat

Performers
Eiichi Saito • Jun Jidai • Koki Miura • Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga • Reo Kitabayashi • Mizuki Yoneyama • Yuta Kimura • Yuki Hirata • Taiyo Onoda • Kei Sadanari • Moe Niiyama • Jumpei Nonaka • Hana Ogawa

Yuichiro Funabashi, Director
Kei Furukata, Technical Director
Kenichi Mashiko (S.L.S.), Lighting Designer
Kazuki Imagai • Yusuke Hayakawa, Stage Managers
Yui Kamiya, Company Manager
Natsumi Ikenaga • Sorami Ikeyama • Minami Sasaki, Tour Managers
Donnie Keeton, Assistant Manager
IMG Artists, International Tour Management
Tatsuya Shimono, Music Advisor
Yumi Nogami, Voice Instructor
Tatsuo Kudo, Posture & Movement Instructor

Special Thanks
Ranjo • Shingo Tokihiro • Kawachi Wakate • Rengebuji Temple

North America Tour Support
Asano Taiko U.S., Inc.

North America Tour Marketing
SoloShoe Communications, LLC

Supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan

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