*Listed alphabetically by first name.
David Wells is a coach at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI). He began his musical journey early in life under the guidance of his father, a professional jazz musician. Having studied clarinet for 13 years, David discovered taiko while an undergraduate at Stanford University. He started playing with Stanford Taiko in 2003 and has, since then, worked to hone his skills in both performance and instruction. Regarding himself as a constant student of the art and simultaneously well-regarded as a taiko artist, David has performed with groups such as the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, TAIKOPROJECT, Prota, On Ensemble, and Unit Souzou.
Devin Tani is a co-instructor and member of Naruwan Taiko in San Diego. He is a fourth generation Japanese American drummer with 15 years of experience in various styles of percussion. His passion for percussion started with concert drums, drew him to success as Drum Major in marching band, and culminated with his move to taiko. At UC Irvine, he was drawn to taiko and joined Jodaiko, one of the oldest collegiate taiko groups in North America. Devin’s background and passion for musical theory have led to his interest in exploring Western techniques in the context of North American taiko.
Eien will be assisting and interpreting for Kyosuke Suzuki’s Mini Intensive.
Eien Hunter-Ishikawa is a musician and educator based in Portland, Oregon specializing in drum set, taiko, and shinobue, and a member of On Ensemble. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education at Central Michigan University where he performed, recorded, and toured as a member of the Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble under the direction of the late Robert Hohner, and earned his Master of Music Performance at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Eien has performed and toured throughout the United States and Europe with the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble and taught classes at the Taiko Center of the Pacific. He performs with shakuhachi artist Bruce Huebner as a shakuhachi/vibraphone duet. Eien has collaborated with Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos (shakuhachi), Colleen Lanki (dance, voice), Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, Hiroshi Yamaguchi (tsugaru shamisen), Naomi Sato (sho), Michael O’Neill’s bagpipe ensemble Mearingstone, John Kaizan Neptune (shakuhachi), and Vancouverʼs Silk Road Music. He has performed at NATC, Vancouver’s Powell Street Festival, Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Dancing on the Edge Festival, Hawaii International Taiko Festival, Honolulu International Jazz Festival, and the Detroit Montreux Jazz Festival. An active and in-demand instructor, Eien has presented workshops at NATC, World Taiko Gathering, Taiko Baka Gathering, Fue of the Bay, Pacific Northwest Regional Taiko Gathering, and Asano Taiko US.
Eri Ishizuka is a performing member of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, teaches at the Taiko Center of the Pacific, and is a performing member of Indra, a Japan-based group lead by her older brother, Yuu Ishizuka. Eri’s roots are in hogaku hayashi, Japanese classical drumming as found in Kabuki theater and nagauta music, having studied with her father, Saburo Mochizuki and headmaster, Bokusei Mochizuki, and recently obtaining a natori (stage name) as Takeru Mochizuki. She was a student of O Edo Sukeroku Taiko from 2005-2009 and has studied Edo Bayashi, Shishimai (Lion dance), and bamboo flute from Kyosuke Suzuki (of the Wakayama School) since 2008. In 2010, she was a founder of the Tokyo based taiko group, ‘Kuroccho’. In addition to extensive touring in Japan, Eri has performed in the United States, Spain, Korea, China, and Austria.
Eri Uchida is a member of Kodo. She joined the group in 2010 after entering the Kodo Apprentice Center in 2007. Eri has performed in a vast array of domestic and international productions, including Kaguyamie, Amaterasu, Mystery, and Chaos. She has recently demonstrated a talent for composing through pieces such as Harewataru and Chit Chat. In 2014, Eri made her directorial debut with a new programme for the “School Workshop Performance” tour in Japan, and in 2015 led Kodo’s first-ever School Workshop Performances abroad in Canada.
Franco Imperial is the Artistic Director of San Jose Taiko. Franco is a prolific composer, teacher, and director for the performing company. He studied extensively under San Jose Taiko pioneers Roy and PJ Hirabayashi and also brings previous years of experience as a musician with Brazilian Samba, American Rock, and Filipino Kulintang. Franco’s work includes musical, educational, and community collaborations with Grammy-award winner John Santos, National Endowment for the Arts Fellow Danongan Kalanduyan, The Bangerz (DJ Crew), Abhinaya Dance Company, Dan Sabanovich, Nihonmachi Outreach Committee, Tule Lake Pilgrimage Committee, and the Japantown Business Association. Exploration of community and connections through taiko is a consistent theme with his work at San Jose Taiko as Artistic Director.
Isaku Kageyama is an Instructor and Coach at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI). Isaku also works with groups such as Asano Taiko’s UnitOne, film-scoring extravaganza The Masterpiece Experience, world music group Rhythm of the Universe, anime band Soulandscape, and the LA Japanese Music Ensemble. Formerly a principal drummer of premiere ensemble Amanojaku, he holds a Bachelor of Music from the Berklee College of Music and a Master of Arts from Longy School of Music of Bard College. Isaku has served as taiko instructor at Wellesley University and the University of Connecticut, and is a two-time National Odaiko (large drum) Champion, becoming the youngest person to win highest honors at the Mt. Fuji Odaiko Contest in 2000, and Hokkaido in 2003.
Joe Small is a solo artist and instructor at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI) and Small Mountain Studios in San Pedro, CA. Joe’s passion for taiko as a college student brought him to learn under Kenny Endo at the Taiko Center of the Pacific and intern for San Jose Taiko and Portland Taiko. These experiences led him to Japan for over six years of intense study, including a Fulbright Fellowship; a two-year apprenticeship with KODO; and performance activities as the sole non-Japanese member of Fu-un no Kai, Eitetsu Hayashi’s professional ensemble. As a solo artist, Joe has been a guest performer for the Sydney-based TaikOz in 2015, and toured his first original concert work, “Spall Fragments” to Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2016. Joe is also a member of the LA-based Prota, and Marco Lienhard’s Taikoza. He holds a BA in Dance from Swarthmore College and an MFA in Dance from UCLA, where his work focused upon mixing taiko with contemporary performance art.
Kaoru Watanabe is a Brooklyn based composer and musician, specializing on the Japanese taiko drum and shinobue flutes. He has spent decades artfully blending the sounds of Japanese instruments with those from around the world, collaborating with such artists as National Living Treasure Bando Tamasaburo, Jason Moran, So Percussion, Adam Rudolph, Kenny Endo, Stefon Harris, Kiyohiko Semba, Alicia Hall Moran, Tamango, Tatsuya Nakatani, Imani Uzuri, calligrapher Kakinuma Koji, visual artist Simone Leigh, Martin Scorsese – creating music for the film Silence – and was a featured guest on Yo-Yo Ma’s Grammy Award winning album Sing Me Home. Watanabe has performed his compositions at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, Kabukiza, Minamiza, Blue Note NYC and has performed in all 47 prefectures in Japan.
Kenny Endo is a solo performer, composer, and teacher, founder of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble and co-founder and Artistic Director of the Taiko Center of the Pacific. He blends Japanese taiko with original melodies and rhythms influenced by his background in world music. Kenny began his taiko career in 1975 in California with Kinnara Taiko and the San Francisco Taiko Dojo and has collaborated with artists from around the world. While living in Japan, he was a member of Osuwa Daiko and O Edo Sukeroku Taiko and performed with Eitetsu Hayashi. In Tokyo, he studied hogaku hayashi, Japanese classical drumming, with Saburo Mochizuki and Bokusei Mochizuki and Edo Bayashi, Tokyo festival music, with Kenjiro Maru of the Wakayama Shachu. Kenny has received numerous awards and accolades, including a natori, a stage name, in Japanese classical drumming. He was a featured artist on the PBS special Spirit of Taiko, performed for the late Michael Jackson and Prince, opened for The Who, performed a duet with singer Bobby McFerrin, and is featured on the soundtracks for Kayo Hatta’s Picture Bride, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, and worked on James Cameron’s Avatar. Kenny was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts for American Masterpieces and has received commissions from the NEA, Japan Foundation, American Composers Forum, Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and the Honolulu Mayor’s Office on Culture and the Arts. He has recorded 10 CDs of contemporary taiko music. Kenny’s taiko are provided courtesy of Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten.
Kris Bergstrom is a solo artist and Head Teacher at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI) in Torrance, California. Kris started playing taiko while an undergraduate at Stanford University. After graduation he studied taiko and shamisen in Japan, and was a founding and touring member of On Ensemble until 2015. Kris holds a natori (stage name), Kineya Katsukoujyu, in shamisen from Kineya Katsuyukie. Kris’ thoughtful approach to taiko instruction and composition, coupled with a strong philosophy of sharing and collaboration, has led to a number of widely distributed exercises, compositions, and activities,among them the “1-2-3-4 Drill”, Jack Bazaar, and Matsuri Crashers. He is currently working to finish a naname choreography piece and anticipates that at NATC he will be “either very excited to talk about it, or will be despairingly seeking advice”, and offers this challenge: “Let’s make this NATC a weekend of taiko inspiration!”
Kristy Oshiro is a freelance taiko artist based in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area and started playing taiko at age nine with Kona Daifukuji Taiko in her hometown of Kona, Hawai’i. She holds a music performance degree in percussion, has been a touring ensemble member of Portland Taiko for six years, and has served as Youth Program Director for Sacramento Taiko Dan for seven years. Kristy is currently Creative Director of Placer Ume Taiko in Penryn, California, Artistic Director of the Tsubaki Ensemble, instructor for San Mateo Buddhist Temple Taiko, and teaches queer taiko workshops for LGBTQQs and allies.
Kyosuke Suzuki is a master musician and dancer of the Wakayama Performance Troupe, touring internationally, and performing regularly at the prestigious National Theater of Japan. He collaborates regularly with world-renowned taiko groups including Oedo Sukeroku Taiko, Amanojaku, and the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble. Suzuki-sensei is an engaging and enthusiastic teacher, regarded by many as the “best shishi-mai dancer,” of Tokyo. He is a premier performer and teacher of Edo Bayashi,Tokyo festival music, with a well-respected Kyo-no-kai school for private lessons. He also teaches at the Kunitachi College of Music, Kaijou Junior and Senior High Schools, and Sankei Gakuen Cultural Center. Suzuki-sensei studied under Wakayama Taneo of the Wakayama School, recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Culture to be an “Important Intangible Cultural Property of Fine Arts,” learning all aspects of the shi-shi mai ensemble including flute, taiko, percussion, and lion dance.
Marco Lienhard is the Director of Taikoza, a taiko ensemble, and East Winds Ensemble, an ensemble of strings and bamboo flute. Marco lived and performed in Japan for 18 years (1981-1998) as a member of the legendary taiko group Ondekoza under director Tagayasu Den, a major figure in the renaissance of taiko. At Ondekoza, he mastered the taiko, the shinobue, the Noh flute and the shakuhachi under Katsuya Yokoyama. With Ondekoza, Marco ran 9000 miles along the perimeter of the US from 1990-1993, stopping for performances along the way. He has performed at venues as wide-ranging as Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall, Osaka Festival Hall, Madison Square Garden, Tchaikovsky Hall and the International Performing Center in Moscow, and through performance and teaching has reached audiences in places as diverse as Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Italy, Switzerland and Canada. In addition to live performance, Marco’s music is available on more than 15 CDs for shakuhachi, taiko and shinobue, as well as on iTunes.
Masato (Maz) Baba is Artistic Director for TAIKOPROJECT and a founding member of On Ensemble. Born into a musical family, Maz started playing taiko at age 6 under the tutelage of his parents and professional taiko players, Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer of Shasta Taiko. In Honolulu for several years, Maz studied extensively with taiko master, Kenny Endo, played with the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, and taught for the Taiko Center of the Pacific. With more than thirty years of experience studying, performing, and teaching taiko, Maz is one of the most respected taiko players in North America, and has toured extensively not only in the United States but also in Japan, Macau, South America, the UAE, and Germany.
MICHELLE FUJII and TORU WATANABE
Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe are Founders and Co-Directors of Unit Souzou, a Portland-based taiko ensemble. The pair met at Warabi-za, Japan’s foremost traditional folk dance troupe in Northern Japan. Michelle was awarded the prestigious Bunka-cho fellowship from the Japanese government. Toru was a professional company member appearing in six original musical productions and teaching at Warabiza’s in-house residency program for youth. Through their 20 years of professional experience, both are recognized as relentless innovators, working with premiere North American taiko groups including San Jose Taiko, On Ensemble, TAIKOPROJECT, Portland Taiko and Shasta Taiko. In 2014, Michelle and Toru founded Unit Souzou to create an expressive blend of taiko and Japanese folk dance, forging new traditions for evolving communities.
Noel Garcia is the founder of Genbu Daiko of San Diego. His work is influenced by hip hop, classical, jazz and world music. During almost 20 years with the taiko community, Noel has played and taught taiko in Kyoto as a JET Programme Assistant Language Teacher, and has worked with several prominent and renowned taiko ensembles including the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble in Hawaii and Unit Souzou in Oregon. Through the recent founding of Genbu Daiko, Noel has realized a long-standing dream to create and perform with his own taiko group.
Canadian multi-percussionist Patrick Graham is a solo artist who enriches the taiko community with his breadth and depth of percussion experience. Patrick earned his Bachelor of Music from McGill University in Montreal and developed his unique style — marked by a fusion of influences, ranging from Japanese percussion, through Indian and Irish rhythms, to Mediterranean frame drumming — through private training with artists such as Trichy Sankaran, Glen Velez, Carlo Rizzo, Zohar Fresco, and Taichi Ozaki. Patrick performs, tours and records regularly with, among others, Trifolia, Constantinople, Thomas Carbou, and Small World Project. He works collaboratively with a vast array of musicians, dancers, and choreographers on numerous projects and recordings, including productions by IMAX, Cirque du Soleil and Ubisoft Games. He endorses Cooperman Drums, and supports the taiko community most notably through projects with On Ensemble, Kaoru Watanabe, and the Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI).
PJ is the Artistic Director Emeritus for San Jose Taiko. Her present work is “TaikoPeace”, an artistic grassroots movement based on the Charter for Compassion. She is a certified Peace Ambassador and was invited to Bethlehem in the summer of 2014 to teach taiko and work with Palestinian teenagers for the 2nd annual Bet Lahem Live! Festival. She received the 2014 Japan-US Creative Artist Fellowship to meet with Ainu, Okinawan, Korean, and Buraku artists, who come from communities in Japan that have experienced discrimination and use their art for social change and transformation. Silicon Valley Creates recognized her as Artist Laureate for Music Performance and in 2014 as Legacy Laureate with her husband, Roy Hirabayashi. They were both recognized and received the National Heritage Fellowship for Traditional and Folk Arts in 2011, a lifetime honor from the National Endowment for the Arts. They recently received the 2016 Cornerstone of the Arts Award from the City of San Jose for their arts leadership and contribution to community vitality.
Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka is the first Japan-trained teacher of kumidaiko in the United States and largely regarded as the father of the art form in North America. He is the founder of San Francisco Taiko Dojo and a recipient of a 2001 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Tanaka was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1943 and immigrated to the United States in 1967. He returned to Japan to study the art of kumidaiko with Daihachi Oguchi in Nagano prefecture, Japan, with Susumu Kowase of Oedo Sukeroku Taiko in Tokyo, and Shosaku Ikeda, of Gojinjo Daiko. Tanaka emerged as the sole taiko drummer at the Cherry Blossom Festeival. That same year, he established San Francisco Taiko Dojo, the first such school in the United States.
Nearly fifty years have passed since the founding of San Francisco Taiko Dojo, and more than 15000 men, women, and children of all walks of life have been fortunate to study under Grand Master Tanaka. Many of these students have gone on to begin over 250 other taiko groups throughout the United States and Canada. Tanaka has been recognized and awarded by various countries for his talents and contributions to the preservation of Japanese traditions and cultures. Amongst his awards are National Heritage Fellowship from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts (2001), Foreign Ministers Commendation from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2003) and, an induction into the American Japan Bunka Hall of Fame (2007). Most recently, Tanaka was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (5th Order: Gold and Silver Rays) by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.
Shogo Yoshii is a solo artist from Japan. Formerly a performing member of Kodo, he was featured on taiko, metallic percussion, bamboo flutes, kokyu, or Japanese violin, and in dance pieces. He also provided musical and artistic direction for Kodo and was artistic director of Earth Celebration in 2012. In 2010, Shogo joined the musical ensemble of Babel (words), choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet, both of Belgium, and was music director and performer in Arte y Solera’s flamenco piece, Dojoji. His original composition Sora is used in a textbook for Japanese elementary school students. After becoming a solo artist in 2013, he has performed in the festival at Palais des papes d’Avignon in France and is working with violinist Ikuko Kawai as assistant director on her new project.
Shoji Kameda is a founding member and primary creative force of On Ensemble, workshop leader, composer and kaDON instructor. He has been recognized as an Asian Pacific Performance Exchange fellow and an Indonesian Arts Exchange fellow, and has collaborated with a host of international artists in places such as Malaysia, French Guiana, Mongolia, Bali, The United Kingdom and Belgium. Shoji composed the original score for Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story, Audience Award winner for Best Documentary at the Slamdance Film Festival, was featured in the music of the hit NBC TV show “Heroes”, and performed with Stevie Wonder at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. In 2009 he shared a Grammy nomination with jazz fusion band Hiroshima for his work on their album Legacy and in 2010 collaborated with award winning puppet filmmaker Sam Koji Hale to create music for the short film Yamasong, which won first prize as the Best Animated Film at the Dragon Con film festival. Shoji also produced On Ensemble’s critically acclaimed albums Dust and Sand, Ume in the Middle and Bizarre Heroes. His most recent partnership with Kenny Endo, Kaoru Watanabe, and Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten is kaDON, an online resource that is delivering high quality instruction, repertoire and instruments to every corner of the taiko world.
Tiffany Tamaribuchi is the co-founder and director of Sacramento Taiko Dan and Jodaiko, a professional women’s taiko ensemble. A student and supporter of Tanaka-sensei, Tiffany’s taiko experience forms a bridge between taiko in Japan and North America. Over the years she has played and toured with a number of notable groups from Japan, including Za Ondekoza, Zampa Ufujishi Taiko, Eisadantai Mafuekaji, and Shidara. Tiffany was the winner of the 2002 All Japan Odaiko competition and finalist at the first Tokyo International Odaiko Contest. Her work has garnered her support by Asano Taiko, and made her popular as a workshop facilitator not only at taiko conferences in North America and abroad but also as a private instructor and mentor for individuals and taiko groups. Tiffany developed and produces TaikoBaka training intensives on different topics in Sacramento and other venues. Always working to deepen understanding about taiko in Japan for North American audiences, Tiffany recently debuted the first Ondeko group outside Japan after training with Kasuga Onigumi on Sado Island and receiving their permission to share their indigenous art form with others.
YEEMAN (MANMAN) MUI
Yeeman (Manman) Mui is an Instructor at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI). She is a certified Early Childhood Orff Music and Creative Dance Teacher, and directs and designs curriculum for a special program of parent/toddler classes at LATI. Originally from Hong Kong, Manman graduated in University of Hong Kong in 2010 with an MPhil in Musicology. A former fellow at the Taiko Center of the Pacific, she has studied with Kenny Endo, and continues to teach and perform at the Center. Manman blends taiko with Orff-based principles in classes that combine body percussion, singing and dance to help develop the taiko player’s sense of natural musicality. She has shared her work in places as far-flung as Madrid, Washington DC, and Macau.
Known by her Buddhist name Laiyo, Yoko Nakahashi is a New York-based award winning contemporary music composer. a member of Taiko Masala and New York Suwa Taiko Association. Yoko is an official Taiko instructor of Columbia University Taiko, and the founder of Navy Yard Taiko where they build necessary equipment for other taiko players. She has been certified to teach Osuwa Daiko music to various levels of taiko players. Her compositions have been performed by JACK Quartet, David Del Tredici, and many other ensembles. Yoko has been writing music and performing live sound effects for various theater groups, martial arts troops, and dance companies, as well as performing with various groups and giving Taiko workshops in the US Japan, Barbados, and the UK.
Young Park is a performing member and General Manager of Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers (RAW), a community arts collective of East and Southeast Asian Women in Toronto. Young, a native of South Korea and Boston, studied at the New England Conservatory Prep School and Walnut Hill School of Performing Arts as a youth, received her Bachelor’s in Music from Oberlin College, and a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan. She co-founded SAFMOD, a multi-disciplinary performing arts group that integrates music and dance styles from different cultures. During her tenure as Artistic Director at SAFMOD her work was influenced by movement styles such as Butoh, Contact Improv, capoeira and stilting. In 2012 she was the project director of the Toronto Taiko Festival. Young’s currently works with the collective membership of RAW to carve space for self-expression, authentic engagement, community, and healing.
Yurika Chiba is a member of San Jose Taiko Artistic Staff. She was born in Saitama, Japan and grew up in Toronto, Canada. At San Jose Taiko, Yurika participates in local programs, domestic and international tours, teaches in the company’s Junior Taiko program, leads rehearsals, training, and workshops, and composes. From 2007 to 2015, Yurika served as Education Director for Summer Taiko at Stanford. Prior to her tenure with San Jose Taiko, Yurika played with groups in Tokushima, Japan, Melbourne, Australia and Sonoma County, California. Yurika’s background in piano, dance, mixed media art, psychology and certification in TESOL combine in a unique mix to inform her work with taiko as an instrument for the individual’s expression of self and connection to community.