The world’s best-known taiko (Japanese drum) ensemble, Kodo, is coming back to Canada as part of its North American tour, performing under the artistic direction of Tamasaburo Bando.

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Kodo’s latest show, “Evolution,” performed under the artistic direction of Tamasaburo Bando, premiered in August of 2016 at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. As a special show to celebrate Kodo’s 35th anniversary, Evolution toured throughout Japan, then last year it hit nine European counties with 30 stops, drawing about 40,000 attendees.

Kodo calls this performance the culmination of its art as a group. The excitement hits its peak during the new song and centrepiece of this show, “Rasen (Spiral).” This new song combines Kodo’s other staple numbers, such as “O-daiko (Big Drum)” and “Monochrome,” and recent popular numbers “Kusawake (Pioneer)” and “Color,” as well as a new song written just for this show: “Ayaori (Twill Weave).” The motifs of these songs, representing various eras of Kodo, spiral into each other in a rhythmic whirlwind that will draw the audience into a new dimension of drumming performance.

Artistic director Tamasaburo Bando is a kabuki actor who plays onna-gata, or female roles. As kabuki doesn’t traditionally have actresses, instead there are actors like Bando who specialize in female roles. Bando is possibly the most popular kabuki actor currently on the stage, and he was certified as an “Important Intangible Cultural Property” in Japan, and is thus known as a “Living National Treasure.” In addition, in 2013 he received the title of “Commander,” the highest honour of France’s Order of Arts and Letters.

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In Japanese, the name Kodo conveys a double meaning. Its written characters mean “children of the drum.” It’s also a homonym of “heartbeat,” the primal source of all rhythm. This show is a presentation of the future of the theatrical art expression with drums by Kodo. Audiences will experience challenging new arrangements performed by this celebrated taiko ensemble, which has earned high acclaim in the world as a top performer of Japanese-style drumming for many years.

Kodo’s 2019 North American tour will visit 27 cities including Toronto on March 21, Montreal on March 23 and a final stop in Ottawa on March 25, 2019. Do not miss this opportunity to experience the art of Japanese drums!

www.kodo.or.jp/en