Japanese Drum Group Taikoza to Take Stage in Old First Night’s Family Entertainment Series Act


The weather forecast for today calls for thunderstorms in the evening, but the rhythmic rumbling that emanates from the Amphitheater won’t be coming from the clouds.

Dynamic drummers from the musical ensemble Taikoza will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 6 as a percussive part of the Family Entertainment Series.

As their name suggests, Taikoza is a group of drummers who specialize in Taiko drumming, a style that originated in Japan and involves elaborately choreographed movements and large, ornate drums.

Roughly translated from Japanese, Taiko means “big drums,” and it’s a name that certainly doesn’t lie. Each polished drum stands several feet tall, allowing for a deep and powerful sound to rumble from the instruments with each strike.

Marco Lienhard, Taikoza’s musical director, said that energy and excitement play central parts in each performance.

“I always try to bring the energy that Taiko generates to our audiences,” Lienhard said. “We try to energize audiences through lively drumming and music.”

According to Lienhard, audiences usually get pretty energetic. The adults in the crowd tend to tap their feet and clap along, while the children typically demonstrate even more enthusiasm, often expressing their excitement in gasps of “oohs” and “aahs.”

In addition to the powerful percussion, Taikoza’s evening performance will feature woodwind music as well. Members of the group play different kinds of fue (Japanese for flute), including the shakuhachi, a long, end-blown bamboo flute.

Lienhard said audiences can expect a show that entertains them visually as well as aurally. Each Taikoza performance features large, choreographed movements as the drummers strike their drums in unison. According to Lienhard, the show has elements of an elaborate, synchronized dance as much as it does a musical performance.

When these factors come together, Lienhard said, audiences often find themselves swept up in the moment.

“People tend to forget themselves in the show and just enjoy the sheer energy that these drums and the music brings,” Lienhard said. “I like it when audiences just let themselves be taken on a journey to discover new sensations and feelings.”

Lienhard said he enjoys seeing how each performance resonates with audience members. To him, a Taikoza performance is more than a piece of entertainment; it’s an unspoken conversation.

“(Taiko has) the ability to communicate with people without actually using words,” Lienhard said. “This power and energy of the music unites people in a good way. In general, all music has that power, but Taiko seems to have an extra level to it.”

Through connecting with the music and the energy onstage, Lienhard said audiences will also witness an experience steeped in centuries of culture. Taiko drumming has been around as early as the sixth century C.E., and Lienhard said the group is committed to honoring the history and tradition of the emphatic art form.

“(Audiences are in for) something that they will never forget,” Lienhard said. “They’ll get a glimpse of ancestral culture that is still very alive, but also very modern as well; just sheer enjoyment I think.”
Tags : AmphitheaterFamily Entertainment SeriesJapanOld First NightTaikoza

The author Duard Headley

Duard Headley is from tiny Yellow Springs, Ohio, and studies journalism and American studies at Miami University in Ohio. Coming hot off the heels of performing in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream last summer, he is excited to cover theater at Chautauqua, merging his love for writing and theater into one experience. In his free time, he enjoys acting, reading, and staring wistfully into the distance as though he were deep in thought (He usually isn’t).