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  • Writer's picturePress Release

Virginia Arts Festival presents world-class Japanese drumming ensemble KODO

Words and Images Courtesy of Virginia Arts Festival


Internationally-acclaimed KODO brings the music and legacy of the taiko drum to Norfolk!

(Norfolk,VA) Internationally renowned taiko performing arts ensemble KODO is ready to drum its way from Japan to North America – bringing heart, history, and high-energy taiko drumming to more than 20 cities. Virginia Arts Festival is thrilled to be a part of KODO’s first tour since the pandemic and will present the acclaimed ensemble on Sunday, March 19 at 4:00 pm at Chrysler Hall. Tickets are on sale now at, 757-282-2822, and in person at the Virginia Arts Festival Box Office located at 440 Bank Street in Norfolk.

Striving to both preserve and re-interpret traditional Japanese performing arts, KODO explores the limitless possibilities of the traditional Japanese drum, the taiko. Since the group’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, KODO has given over 7,000 performances on all five continents, forging new directions for a vibrant living art-form.

Director Yuichiro Funabashi states, “’KODO One Earth Tour: Tsuzumi is the first production in a series of commemorative works we created for KODO’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 2021. The theme of this work is our home base, Sado Island.” Funabashi continues, “With its lush nature and distinct history, this special place has been the starting point for KODO’s diverse local and international activities for the past four decades. Conjured and honed on Sado, KODO’s sound is like no other. I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy this performance and the visceral sound of KODO’s taiko.”

“We’re honored to be a part of this tour and can’t wait to welcome KODO as a Virginia Arts Festival pre-season event,” said Rob Cross, Executive Director/Perry Artistic Director. “There’s nothing like the energy these talented performers bring to the stage. We know our audiences will welcome them with great appreciation!”

“Tsuzumi” opens with a very special piece in the KODO ensemble’s history that is seldom performed on tour—Dyu-Ha. The late Maki Ishii, a modern composer who was introduced to KODO by conductor Seiji Ozawa, presented this piece to KODO as a gift to congratulate the ensemble on its debut in 1981. This will be the first time KODO has performed Dyu-Ha in North America since 1989. The 40th anniversary tour program also features Ishii’s masterpiece Monochrome and other KODO signature pieces such as O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi, and Zoku, coupled with new compositions.

About KODO Exploring the limitless possibilities of the traditional Japanese drum, the taiko, KODO is forging new directions for a vibrant living art-form. Since the group’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, KODO has given over 6,500 performances on all five continents, spending about a third of the year overseas, a third touring in Japan and a third rehearsing and preparing new material on Sado Island. KODO strives to both preserve and re-interpret traditional Japanese performing arts. Beyond this, members on tours and research trips all over the globe have brought back to Sado a kaleidoscope of world music and experiences which now exerts a strong influence on the group's performances and compositions. Collaborations with other artists and composers extend right across the musical spectrum and KODO's lack of preconceptions about its music continues to produce startling new fusion and forms.

About KODO's Home of Sado Island Since 1971, Sado Island has been KODO's home and the platform from which the group reaches out to the world. With nature's warm embrace evident in each of her four seasons, Sado is an extraordinary place where traditional ways of life and the island's indigenous performing arts still thrive today. This island is the fountain of inspiration for KODO and the guiding force behind the group's creative lifestyle. Their goal is to find a harmonious balance between people and the natural world. Each time KODO ventures off the island, the ensemble encounters new people, customs, and traditional performing arts that are ingrained in the lifestyles of each locale. Both similarities and differences prompt KODO members to pause and reflect upon the importance of the varied and rich cultures that colour our world. These life lessons permeate each performer's skin and become an invisible source of their expression. It is through this process of Living, Learning, and Creating that KODO cultivates a unique aesthetic and sensitivity, reaching out toward a new world culture rooted in the rich possibilities of a peaceful coexistence between humanity and nature.

About Virginia Arts Festival The Virginia Arts Festival celebrates its 26th Anniversary in 2023.  The largest performing arts organization in southeastern Virginia, Virginia Arts Festival has transformed the region's cultural scene, presenting great performers from around the world and making this historic region a cultural destination for visitors from across the United States and around the world.  In 2019 the Festival welcomed visitors from 47 states, the District of Columbia, and 12 foreign countries.  Each season, the Festival presents over 250 performances, free community events, student matinees, and workshops, with an annual attendance of over 110,000.  Millions more are reached through international broadcasts of Festival performances on American Public Radio's Performance Today, nationally on PBS TV, and regionally on WHRO TV.  Over 32% of ticket sales come from outside the region, bringing tens of thousands of visitors to local museums and attractions and filling regional hotels and restaurants.  Estimated annual economic impact of the Festival exceeds $25 million.

Arts education is central to the mission of the Virginia Arts Festival.  Since its creation in 1997, the Festival has reached more than half a million students, providing opportunities for students and educators that simply would not otherwise exist.  Each year, the Festival reaches over 30,000 young people through student matinees, in-school performances, workshops, and masterclasses, offering life-changing opportunities to see and study with virtuoso performers.  The Rhythm Project, a community engagement program of the Festival, is a world percussion program dedicated to nurturing self-esteem through individual and cooperative achievement.  Eleven ensembles serve the cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Portsmouth.

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