UT News Sep 2013

Sun, 2013-09-01

We’ve been busy in fits and starts over the past couple of months. While July saw the commencement of our first ever series of kids’ classes, much of our activity was focused in early and mid‐August. 

August 5, 2013 we had the opportunity to play at the Mela (IndiaFest) on their opening night. Japanese taiko might at first seem an odd choice for the Mela – they had a Chinese dancer troupe and the Furusato Dancers, as well – emcee Karn Dodd explained that through Ashoka the Great and his early Buddhist emissaries India has a connection to Japan and China as well as other countries. (To my knowledge Buddhism officially arrived in Japan in 552CE via China; I can’t say to what extent Ashoka’s efforts played a role.) It was great to be asked to perform there and, who knows, maybe at some point in the not‐too‐distant future Uminari Taiko will collaborate with local tabla players. As a long‐time fan of Indian music, I know I’d love for us to work with tabla players! 

Our Obon performance followed on the heels of the Mela performance and allowed the recent kids’ group to show off what they’d learned. It may be a biased opinion but I thought they acquitted themselves admirably and it was wonderful to see such a great turnout. 

Dragon Boat Festival has been an Uminari summer staple since 2004 and I believe this year’s Dragon Boat Festival, August 16 – 18, saw us play our longest set ever. It was great to receive positive feedback from founding members, Marcin Sawicki and Brad Lewis, who were both in attendance at our Saturday evening show. I know they wouldn’t sugar‐coat their evaluations. 

Up to this point I’ve been relatively tight‐lipped about the opportunity I had this summer to teach taiko to mental health clients and their community supporters. (As I work in that area, client confidentiality is always foremost in my mind.)  This initiative followed shortly after the screening of Inclusion that Friends of Music Society helped facilitate last May. On Sept 5 the class will perform a song as part of Friends of Music’s Free Community Concert Season Opener. Teaching taiko to marginalized members of our community has been a dream I’ve nurtured for the better part of a decade and is something I hope to continue. I believe I owe all Uminari members, past and present, a debt of gratitude for their role in helping me realize that dream. 

Although it’s still summer the VNCS Fall Fair is not far off. I don’t want to give too much away but we do have at least one new song to debut and we look forward to playing what will be the 12th consecutive year we’ve performed at the Fall Fair. You know we look forward to seeing you there!

Jacob Derksen