2018: A Year in Review

January 9, 2019
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As we kick off 2019, we take some time to reflect on the year that was. It was a HUGE one for Midnight Taiko Kai, and included our inaugural trip to Japan, our first ever formal concert to celebrate over 10 years of Taiko in Calgary, the departure of beloved members and welcoming of new faces, and a packed show season that included, among other adventures, a performance with the highly acclaimed Eitetsu Hayashi. Take a look!

Japan

We started the year off with a bang with several of our members (Nori, Rico, TL, Brenda and her husband Eric, Marty, Lisa, Jigme and Jessie) making a trip to the land of the rising sun! Highlights include instruction by Tsuji-sensei, an esteemed former member of the famous Taiko ensemble Kodo, and a visit the town of Higashikawa, Hokkaido in the north of Japan, where Brenda used to live. This trip was as moving for those of us visiting for the first time as for those of us who come from or used to live in Japan.

We had several team bonding experiences, like visiting the ancient city of Kyoto, exploring the streets of Tokyo, trying woodcrafting and pottery, skiing (over each other!) in a white-out blizzard, singing (and dancing) our hearts out at karaoke, and performing in cold temperatures and high winds at Higashikawa’s winter festival.

We had several funny experiences and lost-in-translation moments that added extra flavour to our trip: in one instance, Midnight Taiko Kai was translated seductively as “Late Night Relations.” The townspeople of Higashikawa were so hospitable in giving us experiences we never would have had otherwise, like creating a snow sculpture for the town’s winter festival. Although our attempt at a Taiko drum ended up looking like a beluga whale, we had fun anyway. Needless to say, we didn’t win the competition!

All said, Midnight Taiko’s inaugural trip to Japan proved auspicious for the amazing year that was about to come.

A Busy 2018 Show Season

We really enjoy performing throughout the year and 2018 sure kept us busy! We kicked off the performance season with a bang with Midnight Taiko: In Concert – our first formal concert. This was a concert in celebration of over a decade of Taiko in Calgary. It was a ton of work and preparation, but it was one for the record books. It even sold out! We were very happy with the venue – Decidedly Jazz Danceworks and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful volunteers! Thanks everyone who participated in making this event all we had hoped it could be and more!

2018 was our second year in a row teaming up with our friends YOSOCA for the Calgary Stampede Parade – always a hot one, but the energy from the crowd makes every step worth it (Ya-hoo)! This was also the second year in a row we’ve had a double header on Canada Day; the first performance was for the City of Calgary in Eau Claire and the second for the Town of Cochrane Canada Festivities, where we performed with one of our favourite bands, Low Tide!

August was one busy month – perhaps our busiest of the season!

We made an appearance on CTV Morning Live with the CJCA, helping to promote Omatsuri – Calgary’s Japanese Festival. We had 4 performances at Omatsuri – some of us even had the privilege of joining Mr. Eitetsu Hayashi and Eitetsu FU-Un no KAI for one song of their set.

We had a very special performance celebrating the wedding of two of our newest members, Joe and Lorie. Lorie even performed in her wedding dress! As if August wasn’t busy enough, we managed to squeeze in a group road trip to the beautiful and scenic Waterton, AB, where we performed at the Waterton Lakes Opera House for their Heritage Spotlight on Japan. It was an evening celebrating Japanese music, dance and film. Our friends from YOSOCA joined us for this event, helping to make the night a success! We spent the rest of the weekend hiking mountains, sailing windy waters, and eating great food!

Other performances in 2018 included: Miniso Calgary Grand Opening, Otafest’s 20th Anniversary Night Market Kick-off, four hours of straight drumming at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon (who knew it was possible?), Quickdraw Animation Society’s screening of “A Dull Sword”, The Okotoks Parade (a joint performance with YOSOCA, the Yosakoi Soran Calgary Dancers), CJCA Stampede Breakfast, a private event at Goro + Gun, two separate Taekwon-do tournaments, Alberta’s most explosive festival GlobalFest, and rounding out the year at with a performance at Northwestival, Calgary’s exciting new winter festival, among others.

Members & Apprentices

Sadly we lost some of our long-standing members and leaders in 2017-2018, but we gained some new faces in fall of 2017 – Joe, Lorie, Gillian, Nancy and Eric. They have all shown their dedication to the group over this past year and we’re so thrilled to have them on board! TL became our group’s Managing Director and Marty, our Artistic Director, both of whom worked hard to drive the group forward through our busy 2018 show season and are looking forward to a fun and productive 2019 year!

Workshops

We worked with the Calgary Board of Education for Heritage Days – teaching over 100 kids throughout the day and our monthly Taiko Hour has become a huge hit – having sold out almost all of them throughout the year!

Thank you!

With over 20 shows in 2018, we worked diligently to ensure we put on engaging and exciting performances. We want to extend the Calgary community and surrounding area a huge THANK YOU (!) for all of your support this past 2018 year. Without your support, we wouldn’t be doing what we love to do – bang the drum! Wishing you all the best in 2019. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Midnight Taiko Kai