Looking Back on 2019

January 31, 2020
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Our 2019 Show Season 

Midnight Taiko members thrive on performing throughout the year, and 2019 was another busy one! We kicked off the performance season by celebrating the New Year with two events: Lunar New Year at the Chinese Cultural Centre and Vietnamese New Year at the Genesis Centre. 

In the spring, we had fun performing at two events at the University of Calgary, local school shows, and one of our annual favourites – the Calgary Marathon, which is as much a three-hour marathon for the runners as it is for us! Similarly, we practiced our endurance drumming chops at the Ronald McDonald House Charity Run later in the year. Our experience performing for the ISKF Karate Nationals was engaging and humbling, and we received many comments afterward from karate practitioners who saw that taiko seems to share many similarities with karate. 

Over the summer, we had a unique opportunity to perform at Usagi Jinja Shrine’s Han-Toshi Matsuri (mid-year festival), where we met a welcoming community of people interested in Martial Arts and Japanese culture. We’re grateful to Jay-sensei for having us and we look forward to continuing our relationship into the future. 

We had an exciting opportunity to perform for Multiculturalism Day, which had an attendance of approximately 10,000 people. Our thunderous drumming must have summoned the storm, as the outside area was evacuated only moments after our performance ended due to concerns of thunder and lightning! 

During the heart of summer, we performed for our third year at the City of Calgary’s Eau Claire Canada Day festivities, which always turns out to be a sweltering hot (but exhilarating) day! 

2019 was our third year teaming up with our friends YOSOCA, the Yosakoi Soran Calgary Dancers, for the Calgary Stampede Parade. This year we were joined by our friends from Mount Royal University, where we performed a fun taiko feature together. Normally, this is an unbearably hot three hours… but not this year! For the first time, we experienced rain during the parade. So much so that we had to cover our drums with plastic wrap to keep them protected! Mother nature aside, the energy from the crowd made every soggy step worth it (yahoo)! 

For the Calgary Japanese Community Association’s annual Stampede Breakfast – one of our favourite shows (which we always cap off with pancakes and maple syrup… oh, and bacon!)  – we invited our talented friend Sari of Oriental Motion Dance Studios to join us. The combination of our powerful drumming with her graceful and energetic dance style was a hit with the audience! So much so that we invited her to collaborate with us a few more times in the season.

August is always busy for us. By August, our summer performance season has already been underway for a couple of months, so we’re all trained up and tout a ‘bring it on’ attitude. 🙂 We performed for a private event at the Calgary Zoo, which was followed by a day out for our taiko ‘fam,’ visiting all of the animals! The athletic tigers captivated our members the most. 

Omatsuri, Calgary’s Japanese Festival, was an exciting show for us and it’s always a treat to wander the festival grounds and experience the arts, culture and food. If you haven’t been to this festival, we highly recommend going in 2020! Just over a week later, Sari of Oriental Motion Dance Studios shared the stage with us again for Alberta’s most explosive festival – GlobalFest! After our performance, more culture and street food were had… are you noticing a trend? 

Our highlight gig of the year was our Shinbokukai, a collaborative performance celebrating friendship and Japanese music with our friends Dahaza and Bushido from Vancouver, BC. We have long-standing relationships with members of each group and were honoured to join forces with them to produce this nearly sold-out show at the new Patricia Whelan Performance Hall at Calgary’s stunning new Central Library. Each group had their own feature set, which we followed by a collaborative set for the finale. Midnight’s set included a feature performance by Sari of Oriental Motion Dance Studios and the entire show opened with a blessing by Usagi Jinja shrine. This was such a memorable experience for us and we thank our audience and volunteers for helping to make it such a successful event!

 

Members & Apprentices

In the fall, we welcomed our new apprentices – Mark, Robert and Paul – which rounds us out to 15 members and 4 apprentices. They are great individuals and we look forward to seeing their skills and passion for taiko grow in the year ahead! 

Teri-Lynn and Marty continued as our Managing and Artistic Directors and some new faces were welcomed onto our board of directors. All parties worked diligently to bring new ideas and experiences to our members and we are looking forward to continued growth in 2020!

 

Public Workshops

We enjoyed holding workshops for over 300 students at some of our local schools during the spring of 2019. We also continued to teach our ever-popular Taiko Hour which is open to the public. We held our beginner and intermediate taiko workshops in the fall, both of which had a great turnout with some super fun participants! Thanks to all of those who participated in our workshops and especially to those who continue to return for more. We always have so much fun sharing our love of taiko with the public!

Members’ Workshops

2019 proved to be a year of growth and discovery for our members. In May, some of our members traveled to Kelowna, BC to participate in the TOKARA Bootcamp North America. There, they studied for five days with the renowned ensemble TOKARA, led by Art Lee.

In August, members participated in a multi-day workshop taught by the esteemed Yuta Kato and David Wells of LATI (Los Angeles Taiko Institute). This workshop was graciously put on by Kaede Cultural Society of Calgary and held at the Mount Royal Conservatory.

On Halloween, two of our members set off to Japan where they had the good fortune to study with renowned taiko artists and instructors in the Tokyo area. Afterwards, they joined a group of 16 taiko enthusiasts on trip with Yuta Kato to Hachijo-Jima, where they studied the distinctive taiko style of the island.

Thank you to all of our instructors: 2019 was a year of great lessons and we look forward to using all the knowledge that we acquired thanks to you! 

 

Thank you!

 

We want to extend the Calgary community and surrounding area a huge THANK YOU (!) for all of your support this past 2019 year. We love sharing the art of taiko with the community and would not be able to do so without your support. Here’s to a vibrant and growth-filled 2020. We look forward to seeing you soon!

– Midnight Taiko Kai

(Photo credit for some photos: thank you to Trent Enzsol – Lens on Nature)