Author: Robert Creenan
The Japan Culture Center of Western New York, Inc. will host a Japanese drum performance at the SUNY Buffalo State Performing Arts Center featuring World-renowned taiko artist Eitetsu Hayashi on Saturday, October 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Mr. Hayashi, a professional Japanese performer and composer specializing in taiko drumming, is well-known and celebrated throughout Japan. Since 1982, he has performed internationally as a solo artist; a thirty-two year career transcending his already legendary 1971-1981 tenure as a founding member and principal performer for both Ondekoza (“The Demon Drummers of Japan”) – the first internationally-touring professional taiko group, and later the world-famous group Kodo (“Children of the Drum”/”Heartbeat Drummers”).
“Hayashi-san is a taiko legend,” said Dr. Takako Michii, Executive Director of the Japan Culture Center. “He was one of the first to bring this music style to the West, starting with his career in the professional taiko groups Ondekoza and Kodo, and then later as the first taiko solo artist with his 1984 performance at Carnegie Hall. He has traveled throughout the world playing with many musicians in many different styles.” This will be Mr. Hayashi’s first concert in Buffalo; part of a tour that also will take him to Columbus and San Francisco. He also will hold a workshop for high school and college students, hosted by Buffalo State.
“To the Japanese, taiko is the sound of the spirit of nature,” said Michii. “It’s different from any other drumming around the world, and most likely is different from anything you have ever heard. Yet, when you hear it, it may evoke feelings of nostalgia, past memories, or great emotion. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a truly unique musical performance.”
Performing onstage with Eitetsu Hayashi will be Buffalo-born Joe Small, who currently pursues a graduate degree in dance at UCLA. As Mr. Hayashi’s only non-Japanese apprentice, Mr. Small will perform as part of his professional touring ensemble Fu-un no Kai, along with members Mikita Hase, Ueda Shuichiro, Makoto Tashiro, and Tasuku Tsuji.
Other local musicians will be featured in Hayashi’s performance: Matthew Bassett, principal percussionist of the Buffalo Philharmonic and a member of the music faculty at Buffalo State, will play a percussion duet with Mr. Hayashi and Joshua Smith, owner of SATO Japanese restaurant in Buffalo and a member of the Buffalo State communications department, will play an improvisation for taiko and shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) with Mr. Hayashi, along with Mr. Smith’s recording partner, Hidefumi Izukawa of Osaka, Japan.
Primary funding for the project will come from a kickstarter campaign run by the Center entitled: HEARTBEAT OF JAPAN. Kickstarter rewards for backers include limited edition CDs, shirts, special event tickets, signed memorabilia and more. Additional support for Mr. Hayashi’s appearance comes from the Japan Foundation and Tokyo Arts Council.
Mr. Hayashi has described his music as “arousing in the audience a boundless feeling, stretching back through time…. I am pursuing a sound that embodies nature, one that is both awe-inspiring, yet serene.”
Tickets are available through Kickstarter, at the Rockwell Hall Box Office, (716) 878-3005, through Culture Center members, and through Sato Restaurant (satobuffalo.com) at 739 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo NY, (716) 931-9146 .
Photo: Sakae Oguma