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Japanese culture shared through drum performance

by Brianna Bush - Lifestyles Editor
Wed, Feb 13th 2019 11:00 am
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On Friday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m., Buffalo’s Shibuki Taiko Japanese Drum Group performed at The College at Brockport. The performance took place in the Tower Fine Arts on the Main Stage.

The show started out with music professor Stuart Soloway, who introduced the group to the crowd. Soloway gave the stage to Shibuki Taiko by saying, “I will turn the stage over to what we are calling, ‘The Heartbeat of Japan.’” The first song the group played was called “Shoryu,” which translates to “rising dragon” and was brought to America by the group leader from Japan. The group performed every song with passion. They not only played the music, they performed it. As the drummers performed, a separate performer off stage came out with a bell-like instrument, hitting it on beat with the rest of the song.

Taking over the stage, Shibuki MC Mourin Jarin introduced herself as well as the group. Jarin was born in Japan and frequented many festivals growing up that often had drumming performances, so being able to be a part of one brought on nostalgia. Jarin gave a little background behind the group and its name, Shibuki, which, as mentioned previously, translates to “splash.”  Jarin compared the “splash” to Niagara Falls, which she in turn made a joke about how Niagara is more than a “splash.”

“It’s [the falls] telling of the group, they will each come together and perform a very vigorous piece and each one of them makes their own splash and together it is an explosive sound, just like Niagara Falls,” Jarin said.

The second piece the group played was “Man o Jishite,” which was composed by one of the group members, Toshie Kenney. The performance was originally meant to be composed by another, but it took too long to compose so Kenney took it upon herself to write it. “Man o Jishite” transtlates to “long awaited,” which Jarin was able to turn into a joke about her waiting long enough. 

The next few pieces on the set list were all location based, with each piece inspired by different locations in Japan. The pieces involved traditional dancing, singing and audience involvement. The piece, “Hokkai Bon Uta,” had a single drum on the stage with multiple dancers that had traditional masks on the back of their heads. There was also a group of singers that stood to the side of the stage. 

“It is basically a back and forth between the singers and the dancers,” Jarin said. “The singers are telling a story, an old tale and the dancers are asking ‘what happened?’ and the singers would continue to tell their story.”

The last of the location pieces was titled, “Hanagasa Ondo,” which means “flower straw hat song” and the performance portrayed exactly that. There were dancers on stage, performing with hats that had bells in them.

One thing the Shibuki Taiko had done, that no other group has before, was combine taiko with another genre of music. Shibuki was able to do so with the piece “Kashmir,” which featured the song “Kashmir” by band Led Zeppelin. A keyboard and violins out on stage added their performance. Throughout the piece there were some slight malfunctions, but the group was able to persevere without hesitation. The group also fused its style with jazz music during their performance.

The Shibuki Taiko show also featured a Kendama performance. Kendama is a Japanese skill toy and the performance was done by University of Buffalo foreign exchange Student Naoki Murotani. Murotani was a national Kendama champion and made sure to put on a show for the audience. He performed to set music and each of his movements corresponded with a climax in the songs.

Each piece required a different set up and different number of drums. It requires a lot of hands-on moving and coordination to make a performance like this take place. The group was very grateful for the assistance provided.

“Everyone who helped us set up were very professional and I felt the group’s complex needs for stage settings were accommodated quite well,” Social Media Manager for Shibuki Taiko, Jennifer Leising said. “Putting on an ever-changing taiko performance, with multi instruments and singers, is no easy task.”

The show concluded with a performance of “Buchiawase,” where the performers stood in a trianglar formation and throughout the piece they would spin around and change position and continue playing without skipping a beat. The music started out slow but sped up, which meant that the performers moved faster and rotated their positions faster, still without missing a single beat. 

Tower Fine Arts will continue to have performances throughout the semester. “The Festival of Ten” will be the next big show to look out for. For more information about Tower Fine Art performances, be sure to visit Daily Eagle for a schedule of performances or shows for the rest of the semester.


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