About Denver Taiko
DENVER TAIKO, founded in 1976, is a nonprofit organization comprised mostly of third, fourth and fifth generation Japanese Americans honoring our cultural heritage through the exhilarating performance art of taiko. Our group ranges from energetic and talented teens to accomplished veterans who have performed with Denver Taiko nearly from its inception.
Early inspiration for our founding members came through a visit to Denver by Sensei Seiichi Tanaka, the taiko master who brought this art form to the United States by way of San Francisco. He is considered to be the Father of Taiko in North America and now there are hundreds of taiko groups scattered throughout the United States and Canada.
The workshop conducted by Sensei Tanaka in 1976 gave our founding members a deep appreciation for the history of the art and the fundamentals of its performance. These and later members have continued to expand their experiences in taiko over the years through participation in workshops and visits with sister groups in Japan and the U.S.
In keeping with the tradition of the music, Denver Taiko has become known for its own unique performance style and personality. We have become an important part of Colorado and the West's cultural landscape, playing at concerts, festivals and diversity celebrations throughout the region. The group was honored in 2001 by Denver's Mayor Wellington Webb when we received the Mayor's annual award for Excellence in the Arts.
In the summer of 2003, the Japanese Consulate sponsored a 3-week workshop for the group in Denver by the famous taiko master, Sensei Yoichi Watanabe, leader of the group Amanojaku out of Tokyo, Japan. He was assisted by his prize student and protege, Isaku Kageyama, himself a national taiko champion in Japan. The close, personal attention our members received from these brilliant artists and teachers instilled in the entire group an even deeper appreciation, knowledge and mastery of this craft.
In 2011, Denver Taiko applied for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status to further extend our mission as a grassroots performance arts organization.
We hope to see you at any of our upcoming performances and we hope to inspire you with the energy and emotion of the taiko
What is Taiko?
Taiko is the Japanese style of drumming and literally means "drum" in Japanese. The exact history of the art of taiko is somewhat uncertain, but the earliest instruments are likely to have come from India to Japan during the introduction of Buddhism. Taiko in Japan has influences from both China and Korea and is believed to have arrived there sometime between 300 and 900 A.D.
An early use of taiko was in battle, to intimidate and frighten the enemy as well as to communicate commands and coordinate movements. The deep, resonant drumbeats were capable of being heard across the entire battlefield.
Taiko was also used by farmers to ward off evil spirits and insects. Taiko soon found its way into the refined settings of the Imperial court as well as in Buddhist and Shinto ceremonies.Taiko, as it is performed today, dates only to the early 1950's. A jazz drummer in Japan, Daihachi Oguchi, created the style known as kumi-daiko (kumi meaning "team"), and is given much of the credit for the current performance style of taiko. Modern taiko is an amalgam of the old and new, and its rhythms are not only Japanese, but are influenced by Latin, African and other music of the world.
A performance by Denver Taiko is a dynamic and propulsive event, a combination of structured rhythms and improvisational solos that roll together like thunder to stir your soul.