BETHANY HOSTS JAPANESE TAIKO DRUMMING TOUR

BETHANY, W.Va. — The Bethany College campus will be the site of a Japanese Taiko Drumming Workshop on April 9. The event, which is open to the public, features master musicians Ryo Shiobara and Takumi Kato. It is being sponsored by Bethany’s Japan Outreach Program.

The two musicians will conduct a pair of workshop sessions at the College. The first will run from noon to 1 p.m. in front of Bethany’s historic Old Main. In case of rain, it will move inside Commencement Hall. The second session will be held from 4-5 p.m. inside Commencement Hall.

Participation in either workshop session is free and no musical experience is required. Shiobara and Kato believe anyone is capable of picking up a pair of sticks and experiencing the joy of marching to the beat of their own drums. Loose and comfortable clothing is recommended.

The master musicians will also team up with the College’s Japan Outreach Program on April 10-11 for a series of appearances at local schools, including Holy Rosary Elementary and Aquinas Elementary in Steubenville and McNinch Elementary in Moundsville.

“The Bethany College Japan Outreach Program has been actively promoting grass roots activities to deepen cross-cultural awareness and raise understanding of Japan in the United States,” said Michiko Oda, who has been stationed at Bethany since 2006 as coordinator of the Japan Outreach Initiative.

Shiobara and Kato are regarded as two of the premier taiko drummers in the world. Shiobara has won numerous national and international awards; including the Grand Prize at last summer’s 6th Annual Tokyo International Taiko Contest. Kato trained with Kodo, one of Japan’s leading Taiko groups, before relocating to Los Angeles in 2006. Upon his return to Japan later that year, an audience of more than 8,000 fans flocked to his performance in the Taiko Festival at the Saitama Super Arena, north of Tokyo.

Taiko, loosely translated as “big drum,” is a traditional Japanese music form that combined auditory performance with visual spectacle to create a unique and uplifting experience. Bethany is the first stop on the fourth Japanese Taiko Drumming Tour, which will run from April 7-17. The tour also has performances scheduled at Ohio University, Slippery Rock University and the University of Buffalo.

For additional information about the Taiko Drumming Workshop or other events planned by the Bethany College Japan Outreach Program, send an e-mail to Oda at moda@bethanywv.edu.