Friday, March 25, 2011

Drumming to the extreme

By Meredith Deliso

Taiko may be the Japanese word for drum, but you can expect more than mere banging from Soh Daiko.

For more than 30 years, the ensemble has practiced the traditional taiko drumming style — which combines movement and vocals with Shinto rhythms — with a more contemporary spin thanks to one piece of spectacle: size.

“In the traditional style, you may see one or two drummers playing,” said Teddy Yoshikami, a Brooklyn Heights resident and 30-year Soh Daiko member. “This has been contemporarily made into a mass drumming style.”

That means nearly a dozen drummers at a time beating their wine barrel-sized drums in ecstatic, expertly placed rhythms.

Regulars at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s cherry blossom festival, Sakura Matsuri, the group performs at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts on March 27 for a longer performance of traditional Shinto music, pieces adapted from existing taiko compositions and original arrangements by members of Soh Daiko —– which all show off their strength and seemingly limitless energy.

“It’s a total experience playing it,” said Yoshikami. “And people who are watching come away with that.”

Soh Daiko at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College [2900 Campus Rd. at Hillel Place in Flatbush, (718) 951-4500], March 27 at 2 pm. Free. For info, visit


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