Road to Kumano: Taiko Project with Chieko Kojima

Reviews, Live Shows

220213 Breathing Forests by Gabriella Smith (world premier)

Sobbing beneath our masks

211203 "Seven Pillars" premier at Emerald City Music

Inspiring composition, mind-blowing performance

210911 Sylvan Esso at The Greek

Standard production, amazing music

210911 Tune Yards at Ford Amphitheater

Low expectations, high reward!

210129 Cinematic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall livestream

Monochromatic, but enjoyable.

201201 Sylvan Esso "With Love" streaming

Heartfelt performance by one of my favorites

201010 NDT2: Dare to Say

Proving that streamed dance performances can move

201010 NDT: Endlessly Free

The Other You is my favorite choreography ever.

201010 Kaoru Watanabe: Haruka and Akira

"Kibou no Hikari" made me cry

200411 Arugakki at JCCC Montreal

First steps: shaky, exciting

200322 Nederlans Dans Theater at Place des Artes

Vladimir is mind-blowing

200221 DRUM Tao at Jorgensen Center

pina colada cotton candy

191116 Sylvan Esso at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Moving music, delightful dancing, incredible sound

191115 Ohmme at Teragram Ballroom

Fantastically quirky

191025 Hiatus Kaiyote at Novo

Amazing music, over my head

191023 Frances Cone and Delta Rae at Bootleg

Introspective, thoughtful music vs showboating

191017 Cosmo Sheldrake at Echoplex

Great samples, less-inspiring looping

191013 Oregon Symphony premier of Andy Akiho Percussion Concerto

My new favorite piece of classical music.

191009 GoGo Penguin's Koyaanisqatsi at Regent Theater

A worthwhile addition to an iconic movie

190925 Cornelius at Echoplex

Bright lights, big music.

190726 New Original Works Festival 2019 at REDCAT

Craving a "composition"

190717 Mitski at Hollywood Palladium

How to make pop songs performative?

190614 Imogen Heap at Greek Theatre

Hide and Seek and not much else

190601 Snarky Puppy at Orpheum

So Snarky!

190319 Monterey Symphony: Sound Waves Concert IV

A drifting concert. Water Concerto anchored by Chris Lamb

190316 Miyamoto is Black Enough, at Wallis

Holy shit this was a good show!

190127 Hidaka at International Dinner 2019

Go Hidaka Taiko!

190116 Third Coast Percussion with Hubbard Street Dance

Unsure why I was unmoved

181120 Dermot Kennedy at Fonda

Solid show to adoring fans

181108 Birdtalker at Hotel Cafe

A special band, early in their career

180623 Olafur Arnalds at Cathedral Sanctuary

The power of sweet/sad melody!

180614 Dirty Projectors at El Rey Theater

Amazing quirk-pop!

180310 Miyake x UnitOne

UnitOne shines!

180224 Batare at La Mirada Theater

Laudably ambitious but scattered.

180223 QuiltCon 2018

Inspiring works, inspiring community.

180131 Kagami Kai at Asian Art Museum

Amazing mochi-making skills, frustrating calligraphy, and take-home encouragement

170416 Sigur Rós with LA Phil

Amazing concert with a few missed opportunities.

170115 A Seed: Ichi-Ryu Manbai

Overwrought concept, thin music, tragic flowers

160927 Sigur Rós at Hollywood Bowl

Amazing sound needs mixed set-list

160918 Road to Kumano: Taiko Project with Chieko Kojima

Ambitious new work!

160409 Locations and Dislocations: An Ecomusicological Conversation

thought-provoking, inspiring, exhausting

130514 Stuck Elevator was fantastic

Powerfully uneventful ending

081012 Byron's Bottled Water Operas

Welcome. Stay and think.

Road to Kumano: Taiko Project with Chieko Kojima

Hooray for ambitious new work in taiko!  Yesterday's performance was a truly cohesive collaboration with moments of great beauty.  Congratulations TaikoProject and Chieko!

Road to Kumano is a collaboration between TaikoProject and Chieko Kojima that merges established repertoire and new music from TP with Kojima's dance and narrative vision.  Kojima has structured the performance around the story of "Dojoji", the tragic Japanese noh play that features in much of Kojima's recent works and collaborations.  I was perhaps least fond of the more obvious narrative moments of the show (the voice-overs and interactions between Anchin and his potential lovers) -- the image of Kiyohime distraught by unrequited love sets off feminist alarms in me -- but the story provides a satisfying scaffolding for dance and music.  The first half of the show builds to an amazing Chaotic River scene, where TP's music, Chieko's dance, and stage effect are most successful.  David and Yumi shine alongside Chieko!

If you can see the show, do!  Road to Kumano is a significant contribution to the world of taiko performance, well worth supporting, enjoying, and pondering.

Notes for TP/Chieko

  • Birth -- Reflection off the shiny fabric covering the dancers makes movements under the cloth hard to see.  If the hand motions are important to see, reducing the downlight and increasing the light inside the cloth will help.
  • Yumi and Chieko -- the "play" scene when you're making balls and tossing them includes really nice, sharp, purposeful movements.  The gestures in later scenes where you are searching for Anchin could use more of this kind of clarity and direction.
  • Anchin entrance crazy idea -- to exaggerate Anchin's collapse following Hachijo, is it possible to have him enter stepping on blocks that kuroko move for him?
  • Training (IIRC... the odaiko piece) -- David, beautiful arm swings but perhaps gradually add a tiny bit more torso movement over the course of that section so the movements develop.
  • Betrayal (IIRC... after Anchin rebuffs his suitors) -- restated music here could be sharper following the "betrayal".  Perhaps dramatically different bachi before/after, different flute register or blowing technique, etc.
  • Jen on small hira -- I like the patterns your playing best when you only hit the 2/4 very occasionally.  A regular 2/4 slap feels a bit too modern.
  • Chieko entrance -- nice moments posing with the photographs!  I also like the use of the sash: tied on obi and trailing, as dance prop, then finally tied to drum.  To me, it represents the unrequited love.  Early in the performance, it could be introduced as a misinterpreted gift from Anchin, and after being tied to the final hachijo drum, could be pulled to rotate the drum, as though the world has gone off-kilter.
  • Hachijo -- After DW solo, jiuchi can stay strong when Chieko enters until she initiates the dramatic drop a few moments later

Notes for me

  • Ask Sueko Oshimoto (costume designer): Do you see these costumes as "period pieces" (i.e. Dojoji) or representative of the artists themselves?  Are the half-length pants referencing traditional or modern Japanese attire (i.e. hakama vs tobi)?
  • Ask Jen Caballero: Conventionally beautiful makeup makes sense for Kiyohime and Zenmyo (who are trying desperately to win the love of Anchin)... but what about for the others?
  • If at times I felt the choreography was too gesture- and expression-based, what is the alternative?  Perhaps I'm just arguing for non-narrative choreo?
  • What can I do as a producer to create honest "mood"?  How might mood changes and dynamics be exaggerated naturally in a musical setting?