Renowned Japanese Taiko Group Kodo Performs at Walt Disney Concert Hall in World Music Series Debut

Japanese taiko group Kodo perform at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Sunday, February 8 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’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.

Sunday, February 8, 2009, 7:30 PM
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

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.

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central


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