The Year in Review

2015 was filled with numerous projects, accomplishments, and experiences that were truly unforgettable.  I'm grateful to our Artistic Director, Maz, for leading the team on many of the year's projects, as well as our performers and our many friends and family for all their support, not only in this year, but for the 15 years we have been in existence. 

We started off the year in the recording studio to produce our sophomore album, "Our Many Sides," with engineer Glenn Suravech.  Then we made a quick trip up to Central California for our second engagement with Fresno Lively Arts at the Tower Theatre.  In Spring, Maz served as head judge for the first-ever Uniqlo College Taiko Battle in Santa Monica, with the top prize going to UCR Senryu Taiko!  We also headed out to the United Arab Emirates for the first time since 2005 to perform for a championship spectacular at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium and appeared on KCBS in-studio news feature with meteorologist Amber Lee. 

In the summer, we produced our Rhythmic Relations concert with Bombu Taiko and Kitsune Taiko at UCLA's Freud Playhouse and performed in a two-month return engagement at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  We coordinated our first-ever Summer Intensive and reached full capacity, making new friends from all over the world who traveled to LA to train with us.  We also drove up the 5 freeway to perform at the ShastaYama Festival, produced by taiko legends Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer, and flew out to Kansas City, Missouri, to perform in a juried showcase for the Arts Midwest Conference. 

In August, we were invited to tour to Argentina, Paraguay, and Northern Brazil as part of The Japan Foundation's South American arts exchange program.  They only had the funds to take three players, so we did what I never really thought we'd be able to do--full concerts with only three performers.  It was a truly amazing and eye-opening experience to visit and meet taiko players throughout these three countries and despite language and cultural barriers, we were able to find common ground in our shared passion for taiko.

In the fall, we presented our initial collaborative work with the Grammy-winning Chicano rock/folk band Quetzal, and continued to plan for future collaborations with Kodo's Chieko Kojima, taiko/chappa master Ryutaro Kaneko, and Kabuki expert David Furumoto.  Working collaboratively with these artists has been fantastic, and we can't wait to share our joint creative efforts with all of you.

Now, as we come to the close of the year, we've had a moment to reflect on all the people that have helped us thrive in 2015.  Thank you to all of you for your on-going support of our work and passion.  We can't wait to show you what we've got in store for 2016!

Bryan Yamami