Renowned Japanese Drummers at the Smith – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Renowned Japanese Drummers at the Smith

The size and deep resonance of the Taiko makes it perhaps the most recognizable instrument of traditional Japanese music. 

On Friday, Sept. 18, Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Asian Studies Department, Music Department and Education Department, with the New York State Council on the Arts, are co-sponsoring a concert by the famous SEN & HIBIKI, a traditional Japanese drumming troupe, at the Smith Opera House at 7:30 p.m.

The performance at the Smith is part of a tour of Upstate New York, underwritten by the Japan Foundation, titled “Taiko History: To the Future of Music and Disabilities,” which also includes performances and workshops at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

According to their MySpace, during this tour “SEN & HIBIKI, acclaimed Japanese Taiko drumming team from Tokyo, Japan, deliver their authentic and progressive Taiko music to U.S. for the first time. With Ryouta Kataoka, blind professional Taiko player, and Ryuji Tomono, developmentally disabled professional Taiko player, SEN & HIBIKI demonstrate the power of Taiko drums that overcomes all the obstacles surrounding us!  Don’t miss it!”

“The drumming is very high energy,” says James-Henry Holland, associate professor of Asian languages and cultures.  “It’s infectious.  People love it.  There is the wide range of styles of drumming SEN & HIBIKI perform and teach.  They know a lot about Noh and Kabuki theater and the regional folk drumming of Japan.  They are very interested in crossover styles and drumming that integrates popular music.”

Highly regarded in Japan, SEN & HIBIKI have had separate documentaries (one on each of the two  primary musicians) made by and aired on NHK, the prominent Japanese educational television network, which is sending a crew with these musicians during the tour.

Masa Seto, a Ph.D. student at the Cornell’s experiment station and a drummer himself, conceived and organized the tour.  

“It is simply the luck of our location that we will have a chance to involve ourselves in this event,” Holland says.  “A few current HWS students of Japanese will help move things and set up before the performance on Friday-and have a chance to use their Japanese!”

In addition to their concert at the Smith, the members of the troupe will perform on the HWS campus on the new patio behind Scandling Campus Center (rain location: Scandling lobby) between noon and 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15 as advertisement for the concert.  During this time, they will mix explanations of what they do with short demonstrations. 

Always interested in educating new performers and jamming with local drummers, SEN & HIBIKI invite local drummers such as Seto and Kyoko Ishida Klaus, the Tanaka Lecturer in Asian Languages and Cultures, both of whom will perform with SEN & HIBIKI.  Don’t miss this great chance to see some of the most renowned Taiko drummers in the world!