Joe Small is a taiko drum artist whose creative approach incorporates postmodern choreography and performance art. Joe’s passion for taiko began in 2002 at Swarthmore College through his studies in contemporary dance and theatre. He received initial formal instruction at the Taiko Center of the Pacific under Kenny Endo, as well as through internships with San Jose Taiko (2004) and Portland Taiko (2005).
Career highlights include a Fulbright Fellowship to Japan to research taiko and traditional festivals (2005-2006), a two-year apprenticeship with the world-renowned taiko group, KODO (2007-2009), touring as a member of Marco Lienhard’s Taikoza (2009-), and ongoing activities since 2012 as the sole non-Japanese member of Fu-un no Kai, the professional ensemble of pioneering solo artist Eitetsu Hayashi.
Joe has performed and taught in numerous locations throughout the United States and Japan, as well as in Hong Kong, Australia, S
pain, and Switzerland. In 2015, Joe was a guest artist for the Sydney-based professional taiko group, TaikOz, and debuted his first original evening-length concert, “Spall Fragments” – which toured Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2016. Joe’s cross-disciplinary collaborations have included accomplished artists such as Chey Chankethya (Cambodian Dance), Laurel Jenkins (Contemporary Dance), Lenny Seidman (Indian Tabla), Joshua Smith (Shakuhachi), and Shoran (Japanese Calligraphy).
Joe is an instructor at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI) and is available for private lessons and workshops. He is a 2005 graduate of Swarthmore College (BA, Dance) and a 2015 graduate of UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance (MFA, Dance).
Mark Rooney – “the world’s most dangerous half-Japanese/half-Scottish solo improvisational taiko artist” – has been studying, performing, and teaching taiko for the past 20 years in the US, Japan and Europe. He was the Artistic Director of Odaiko New England, the founding instructor for Wesleyan University’s taiko program, and a touring member of Taikoza. Mark has collaborated with a wide variety of artists and groups including Tiger Okoshi, Opera unMET, UpRooted Dance, and Lumina Studio Theatre. He is now in the Washington DC area continuing with his mission: “taiko for all people at all levels.”
Kristy Oshiro is a professional taiko artist based in the Sacramento and San Francisco Bay Area. She started playing taiko at age 9 in Kona, Hawai’i with Kona Daifukuji Taiko and was an instructor and touring ensemble member of Portland Taiko from 2001-2007 while getting her bachelor’s degree in Music Performance in Percussion at Portland State University. She was also an instructor and youth programs director at Sacramento Taiko Dan from 2007-2014.
Kristy is currently the Artistic Director of the Tsubaki Ensemble, Creative Director of Placer Ume Taiko, instructor for San Mateo Buddhist Temple Taiko, a touring member of Taikoza, and has performed and given taiko workshops across the US and in Canada, Japan, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand. She is also a vendor for Visions In Education in Sacramento and specializes in educational assemblies and teaching youth.
PJ Hirabayashi is the Artistic Director Emeritus, former Artistic Director, and founding member of San Jose Taiko (SJT), a world-class performing ensemble of taiko drummers. She is a pioneer of North American taiko, recognized in the international taiko community for her distinctive performance and teaching style that combines movement, dance, drumming, fluidity, joy, and energy.
PJ’s current project is TaikoPeace, an extension of Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion. As a certified Peace Ambassador for the Shift Network’s Summer of Peace 2012, PJ seeks to inspire personal, social, and global change through the music and art of taiko drumming.
Established in 1983, Montreal’s Arashi Daiko – Japanese for “Storm Drums” – is the third of approximately twenty-five taiko groups in Canada to have formed since Katari Taiko was started in Vancouver in 1979. Although taiko has a long history in Japan, Arashi Daiko’s twelve performers are ambassadors of a relatively modern art form that emerged in Japan in the early 1950’s known as kumi daiko, or taiko performed and choreographed in a group or ensemble setting.
Arashi Daiko has evolved over their 28-year existence, from humble beginnings playing rhythms on old rubber tires to their present-day collection of drums, which includes over 30 taiko from Japan and their most treasured drums, hand-crafted by the group’s own members. Members have come and gone, reflecting a wide variety of backgrounds and talents, but the group’s original mission has remained constant: to be a community-based group sharing this exciting aspect of Japanese culture with the public at large. Beyond the musical, traditional, and cultural aspects of their performance, members of the group enjoy communicating with the public by sharing their passion for the drums, leaving audiences uplifted and energized.
Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers
Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers (RAW) is a community arts collective of East and Southeast Asian Women in Toronto. We are a Taiko drumming group that exists as a critical response and challenge to both systemic and internalized oppressions.Through performance, education, and community outreach, we seek to challenge, redefine and represent ourselves and to inspire ourselves and others. Through collective membership, artistic creation, and active development, we carve space for self-expression, authentic engagement, community, and healing.
Arashido Taiko is a Toronto based Taiko group with 10 core members.
Arashido means “The Way of the Storm” and it springs from the energy and passion that the performers put into not only performances but practices as well. Arashido Taiko was formed in December 2006 by Erez van Ham, who has over 10 years Taiko experience both in Canada and Japan. He has played in countless festivals including ones with attendance levels of over one million people!
Inner Truth Taiko
Inner Truth Taiko is a Toronto-based all-female Taiko group. The lead instructor, Brenda Joy Lem, began drumming in 1985 with Wasabi Daiko. She has developed a body-centred practice introducing elements of yoga, chi kung and other musical influences. Inner Truth Taiko Dojo performs at music events as well as community events. Additionally, through storytelling and performance, Inner Truth brings the history and joyfulness of taiko into public schools.
Oto-Wa Taiko was started by members of the Ottawa Japanese Community Association in 1989. After gathering together several interested members of the community, a group was formed that fall. For the first two years, the group didn’t have any drums, and had to practice on car tires (this is quite common for beginners in Japan).
The name Oto-Wa Taiko, while phonetically reflecting its community of origin, Ottawa, uses two Japanese characters, oto and wa. Oto means sound while Wa means harmony. Taiko means drum. The character wawas chosen to symbolize the harmony among the group members as well as the harmony of spirit between the players and their drums as they make oto together.
Over the years, Oto-Wa Taiko has performed many times each year in and around the Ottawa area, as well as a few occasions in other Canadian cities such as Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg, and outside Canada in Sendai, Japan and Rochester, NY.