Looking Back on 2021

February 25, 2022
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It’s funny how our perception of time seems to have altered throughout the course of the pandemic. It feels like yesterday we were preparing our blogpost reflecting on 2020, but at the same time it feels like a lifetime ago. Can you relate to this sentiment? In any case, we are now in the midst of 2022 and we wish you a warm welcome! But before we get too deep into 2022, let’s take a moment to look back on 2021.

 

2021 Projects

We were honored and thrilled to start the year off by contributing to the Asano Taiko US & Friends Virtual Concert, which took place in January, where groups from all around the globe shared a performance video for this virtual concert. We performed Nori Akagi’s composition “Harukaze”. We got creative with the videography both out of necessity and ambition. We couldn’t gather indoors due to the public health restrictions at the time, so had to resort to recording outside during the frigid winter’s of Alberta. But, this helped us harness our imagination, seeking out beautiful landscapes that showcased our beloved city of Calgary as our filming locations. We even dusted off our friend Flea, the drone to add some excitement and interesting camera angles to the footage.  The concert was a success and our members enjoyed watching all of the other taiko ensembles, and engaging virtually with the taiko community during the event. We also had a member partake in the Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI) Recital – The Art & Study of Taiko virtual concert as well, which was presented the evening before. A huge thank you to Asano Taiko US for providing opportunities to taiko ensembles near and far!

 

 

Two of our members participated in the Paueru Mash-up, a community dance created for the renowned annual Vancouver Japanese festival – Powell Street Festival. Our two members participated in virtual workshops to learn the dance and then submitted their video which was combined with the other participant’s videos. Our members were grateful for the opportunity to learn the dance and had a ton of fun doing it!

We had the great fortune and opportunity to collaborate on a project with the renowned dancer Yukichi Hattori, former principal dancer for the Alberta Ballet and currently of the H/W School of Ballet. This collaboration was thanks to the Calgary Japanese Community Association (CJCA) and was presented at Calgary’s Omatsuri, which was held virtually this year. Hattori-san developed the choreography to accompany the music, and came up with the name of “Kokyuu no Ma”, meaning “space between breaths”. There were approximately 30 dancers who participated in the project and they all did an incredible job. We were so thrilled to work with Hattori-san and his students. We will have a more in depth blog post coming regarding this experience, but wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone involved in this project!

 

 

Photo credit to Shawn Dakin – thank you!

 

Because it was held virtually, it offered a unique opportunity to do this collaboration with a videographer and record the audio portion in the studio. Our members composed and recorded the music for this project.

 

 

Alongside “Kokyuu no Ma”, we also had the fortune to work with Yukichi Hattori on “Calgary Ondo”, an original Bon Odori piece created in honor of our great city. Hattori-san had the idea for this project and created the choreography for it, and we composed the music. Odori pieces typically have a vocal component, so we were excited to bring in the talented Nori Akagi to join in on this collaboration. Nori wrote the lyrics and sang the song in Japanese for the audio recording. This piece was also presented at Calgary’s virtual Omatsuri and included an instructional video where Hattori-san taught the dance so those watching could join in! We were so honored to work on this project with Hattori-san and we can’t wait to perform “Calgary Ondo” at the next in person Omatsuri.

Our first in-person performance since February 2020 was Global Fest! We were so excited to perform at this festival again. We had 3 separate performances and did we ever have fun! We also enjoyed the practices leading up to the show; everyone was so focused in anticipation of a live performance. We were also able to enjoy some taiko family time, enjoying the fireworks together after our performances!

The Calgary Marathon was up and running again this year, an annual favourite of ours. We spent 3 hours drumming for and cheering on the runners – we didn’t have too many blisters this time around. Following this, we spent the rest of the day down by the Bow River recording a collaboration video with our friend and beautiful dancer, Sari of Oriental Motion. It turned out to be a warm, sunny afternoon and we greatly enjoyed spending it together drumming alongside the river. We look forward to the completion of this project and sharing it with all of you!

 

 

2021 turned out to be another unorthodox year for our group, but similar to 2020, the disruptions allowed us to use our imagination and explore more composition, video work and collaboration projects. We finished this year with new friends and new repertoire to perform, and we look forward to sharing them with you in the future.  

 

Rehearsals & Taiko Family Fun

Throughout the year, we had a mixed bag of indoor, outdoor, and even online rehearsals, depending on the pandemic situation at the time. Of course, we always welcomed the opportunities to rehearse indoors at the CJCA hall, where we had access to all of our gear, and in particular our beloved Odaiko.  But we also loved practicing outside in North Glenmore Park, especially when the weather was warm.  However, cooler weather couldn’t stop us from gathering.  Hats off to our members who put on their wool socks and down jackets, to brave the brisk shoulder seasons and keep the taiko spirit alive!  It was always an added bonus to connect with members of the public who stopped by to watch us play.

 

 

We typically receive multiple requests to perform on Canada Day, and have become accustomed to spending July 1st together each year. This year on Canada Day in lieu of performances, our taiko family went camping together in the mountains where we practiced taiko together on drum pads beside the Bow River, indulged in delicious camp food, and told tales by the fire in Banff! We could get used to adventures like this!

The TCA held a 5K run to fundraise in support of their organization in July. Midnight put together a team and we used the opportunity to meet at our favourite park and enjoy a fun walk/run with each other. We enjoyed a picnic after the 5K was done and we were happy to contribute our time and energy to support the great work of the TCA. 

Our Managing Director, TL, had a couple of milestone moments in 2021 – 10 years of membership with Midnight Taiko and her 50th birthday! We took the opportunity to throw her a surprise party in the park to honor her dedication and commitment to our taiko family as well as her big 5-0. It was an incredibly warm and sunny day (for the end of November in Calgary), and we spent the afternoon around the campfire eating cupcakes, drinking tea and playing hachijo-daiko. 

 

Members & Apprentices

We finished 2021 with 13 members and 3 apprentices. 

TL and Marty continued as our Managing and Artistic Directors, and our Board of Directors consisted of Ben, Jessie, Lorie, Gillian, John and Anny. We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our group leadership.

 

Members’ Training and Development

A number of our members subscribe to KaDON and we appreciate the value of the content offered to subscribers. While in-person gatherings were not an option, the greater taiko community came through in graciously offering ‘virtual’ opportunities to keep us engaged. We had a couple of members join the Shogo Yoshii workshop offered through the KaDON Live series which was incredibly insightful and our members were grateful for the offering. A few Midnight Members participated in the LATI online courses, and we know our group will benefit from the availability of such courses.

Our Artistic Director participated in the first Taiko Community Alliance (TCA) Leadership Course which was held virtually to taiko leaders across North America. This intensive course ran for an 8-month period, and offered instruction from renowned taiko leaders throughout North America. It was also an excellent networking opportunity, and we are grateful to the TCA for their programs and ongoing support for the Taiko community.

Special thanks to the TCA, Asano Taiko US & LATI, KaDON and the taiko community leaders and members who are dedicating their valued time to continue advancing the art of taiko. 

 

Thank you!

We want to offer the Calgary community and surrounding area a huge THANK YOU  for your continued support. We love sharing our passion for taiko with the community and would not be able to do so without you. Here’s to a 2022 filled with meaning and connection. We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

– Midnight Taiko Kai