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  • Japanese Taiko Group Kodo Performs at Walt Disney Concert Hall in World Music Series Debut
  • Feb. 8, 2009
  • SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2009, at 7:30 PM

    Japanese taiko group Kodo perform at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Sunday, February 8 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the LA Phil’s 2008/09 World Music series. This performance is part of Kodo’s One Earth Tour, which covers 29 North American cities in just three months.

    Kodo are the best-known beacons of Japanese music including the rumbling sounds of the giant taiko. They have scoured Japan for little-known traditions, bringing music from Shinto shrines and harvest festivals to the world stage. They are credited with significantly enlarging the traditional drum design, now copied by many other taiko performers, putting Japanese percussion on the global musical map. Kodo’s 2009 One Earth Tour showcases a sound that comes from rigorous training, their singular collective lifestyle, and an unflagging spirit that connects people across cultures and to our planet.

    Kodo’s spirit was forged in the unique artistic culture of Sado Island, located off Japan’s northwest coast, and for centuries home to artists and intellectuals in exile. The island’s remoteness helped many traditional Japanese folks arts survive the modernizing wave that hit the country in the mid-20th century, and Sado became a world apart. Enter a handful of art-focused students who started a touring drum ensemble in an effort to share their culture with the world. The result was a new and innovative taiko group. The group, then known as Ondekoza, had a powerful impact at its North American debut in the 1970s - running the Boston Marathon and then hopping on a cart to start a full-on taiko performance. In 1981, a committed core of these original musicians founded Kodo, later opening Kodo Village in 1988. Inspired by tradition as well as by contemporary music from Western classical to jazz, drumming went from being the heart of ritual to the heart of a new kind of collective creativity. Kodo keeps the original communal spirit of Japanese drumming alive, while creating new pieces and new projects.

    Kodo does more than simply get together for rehearsals or tours like other musical groups. It is a village, an intentional community that harvests rice, runs a two-year apprentice program, and even crafts eco-friendly furniture. Kodo’s way of life is just as striking as its music, in part thanks to Sado’s communal culture.

    Though deeply rooted in Japanese and community traditions, Kodo is constantly evolving. Globe-trotting new pieces composed by the younger generation of Kodo see their North American debut in 2009.

    The 2008/09 World Music series at Walt Disney Concert Hall continues with one of the world’s most captivating tango groups, Tango Fire, on Sunday, March 1; and Portugal’s alluring fado singer, Mariza, on Wednesday, March 18.

    KODO is a group whose activities are centered on the Japanese drum, or taiko. While exploring the countless byways of the traditional performing arts, Kodo strives to create something new for the modern age. The name Kodo conveys two meanings: the literal readings of the two characters that make up the name in Japanese are “drum” and “child,” conveying Kodo’s desire to play the taiko purely, “with the heart of a child.” The word “kodo” is also a homonym for “heartbeat”, humanity’s most fundamental source of rhythm, and the first sound a child hears in their mother’s womb. Since Kodo’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, they have spent one third of every year touring Japan, one third on Sado Island, and the rest of each year touring overseas. Their most recent tour – the One Earth Tour - consisted of 3,000 widely-acclaimed performances in 43 countries, from war-torn Croatia to New York City's Carnegie Hall. Since 1988, Kodo has joined with the local towns and villages on Sado Island to hold an international music festival called the Earth Celebration, described by The New York Times as “Japan’s leading world music event”. With the establishment in 1997 of the Kodo Cultural Foundation, Kodo has also become deeply involved in the running of the Kodo Apprentice Centre, conducting cultural research programs and holding of a variety of workshops. There are three principal elements in the make-up of a Kodo performance. The first is that of pieces based upon traditional folk arts, learned from local people throughout Japan. Kodo’s intention is not simply to replicate, but, in rearranging them for the stage, attempt to capture their universal spirit and energy as they filter through our bodies. The second element is made up of compositions of friends and mentors of Kodo. These include composers Maki Ishii and Shinichiro Ikebe, Kabuki orchestra musicians Roetsu Tosha and Kiyohiko Senba, jazz pianist Yosuke Yamashita and Kabuki actor Tamasaburo Bando. The third element consists of original compositions of Kodo members themselves, who have used their exposure to the rhythms and sounds of the many people and places they have been lucky enough to visit as grist for their own creations.

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, under Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, presents the finest in orchestral and chamber music, recitals, new music, jazz, world music and holiday concerts at two of the most remarkable places anywhere to experience music — Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. In addition to a 30-week winter subscription season at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the LA Phil presents a 12-week summer festival at the legendary Hollywood Bowl, summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and home of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the Association’s involvement with Los Angeles extends to educational programs, community concerts and children's programming, ever seeking to provide inspiration and delight to the broadest possible audience.


    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2009, 7:30 PM

    WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

    World Music Series


    Tickets ($36- $89) are on sale now at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office, online at, or via credit card by phone at 323.850.2000. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For information, please call 323.850.2000.

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  • Contact:

    Lisa Bellamore, 213.972.3689,; Photos: 213.972.3034