A spectacular drumming performance will celebrate the 15-year relationship between the University of Chester and Nihon Kogakuin (Katayanagi Institute) in Tokyo on Wednesday, May 18 at 7pm.
The Didengumi Taiko drummers will perform at the university’s Riverside Campus to mark the presentation to the university of a ‘Mother Drum’ (chu-daiko,) which stands at an impressive two metres tall, as a mark of the partnership between the two institutions.
The drum has made the 6,000 mile journey from Japan to Chester many times. Now it will finally reside in Chester where it will be housed in the university in a special designed glass unit that allows the drum to ‘breathe’, so it can be seen by the public and used in future projects.
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Taiko is an ancient Japanese form of percussion using large drums. The drums range in size from roughly a snare drum (“shime”), to drums as large as a car (the “o-daiko”). The most common drum size in taiko is the “chu-daiko” which is the size of a wine barrel. One of taiko’s most defining aspects is its dynamic playing style. Taiko playing is loud, hard, and fast, and involves a lot of choreographed movement which many identify with Japanese martial arts.
Professor of drama education Allan Owens in the university’s Faculties of Education and Children’s Services and Arts and Media, and Naomi Shimizu-Green, the Japanese theatre practitioner, have staged projects and run workshops in applied theatre and drama education for more than 15 years in Japan, linking with colleagues including NK Tokyo, the Japanese Children’s Theatre Association and Taichi Kikaku Theatre.
In addition, between 20 and 30 students have travelled to Chester from Japan each year to stage interactive performances all over the city including the Town Hall Square, Cathedral and the Groves and out on tour to venues including Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, Lowry in Salford and Llangollen Fringe Festival. The collaboration has drawn in other local partners such as the Mulberry Centre and high schools and colleges all over North West England and North Wales.
Professor Owens said: “The university’s link with Japan started 15 years ago as an intercultural applied drama programme between the two countries. A group of Japanese educators and arts professionals came to Chester and saw how we were using applied theatre and drama in education and they were keen to work with us.
“One of the original professionals, Motoichi Yazawa the Japanese drum master, formed the idea of starting a drum academy when he first visited Chester. This is now one of the largest in Tokyo with some 400 students aged from four to 84. Motoichi will present the drum on behalf of Tomoki Yoshimura of the Katayanagi Institute.
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“This drum stands taller than me! It’ll be a really exciting performance and we’re extremely proud to host this event.”
The performance, by five professional drummers, will last for an hour and is being co-ordinated by Rebecca Wilcock. Tickets are £8 and £5 for concessions. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. To book a ticket visit http://tinyurl.com/jjy2d43