Yamato drummers conquer obstacles with 'The Challengers' tour

January 08, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Yamato: The Drummers of Japan will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company’s founding by bringing its world tour of “Chousensha — The Challengers” to Eisenhower Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30.

“The Challengers” is a new program created by the taiko drum ensemble as a way to reflect on the musicians’ lives and experiences. “‘The Challengers’ offers an anthem for encouragement to all who face their own challenges,” said Masa Ogawa, the troupe’s artistic director.

Yamato’s intense live performances are a contemporary take on the traditional Japanese musical instrument. It’s the troupe’s belief that the drumbeat, like the heartbeat, is the pulse of life and the epitome of the Japanese spirit. The troupe continually evolves the “rules” of taiko and creates more modern and physically powerful performances while maintaining respect for the tradition.

By perfecting pinpoint precision, ferocious skill and high-energy creativity, this mixed-gender troupe of musician-athletes creates an unforgettable spectacle. This tour marks the ensemble’s fourth visit to Penn State.

“Drumming of the highest order on a range of different sized taikos is the staple, with the focus shifting around the stage — sometimes thunderous, sometimes staccato,” wrote a reviewer for CriticalDance.org.

“The Yamato show is a genuinely theatrical experience, delivered with balletic grace and infectious humor,” wrote a critic for The Times (United Kingdom).

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring a visiting artist or artists, is offered in Eisenhower one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.

For more information about the ensemble and a Sunday, Jan. 28, drumming workshop featuring Penn State Taiko, visit the Center for the Performing Arts online or call 814-863-0255.

This presentation is part of the Center for the Performing Arts Diversity and Inclusion Collaborative, which seeks to: immerse an array of people in the performing arts; educate the community about cultures and art forms different from the familiar; influence thinking so we become a community that embraces diversity and promotes inclusion; and ensure the activities of the collaborative have a sustainable impact on the community. Funds from across Penn State and throughout the community support the initiative. The University’s Equal Opportunity Planning Committee provides lead funding. Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support. For more information, visit cpa.psu.edu/diversity.

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  • Yamato drummers smile while they pound on their drums.

    Yamato drummers hit both sides of an okedo-daiko. Musicians frequently play this type of taiko drum at shishimai (Japanese dance-like play) or kabuki. Yamato: The Drummers of Japan prides itself on presenting the traditions of taiko drumming but with a contemporary tone. The troupe will return to the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State for the fourth time with “Chousensha — The Challengers” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, in Eisenhower Auditorium.   

    IMAGE: Hiroshi Seo

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 08, 2018