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2023 - What a Year!

Wow! 2023 was a whirlwind of incredible projects, growing and strengthening our organization and taiko family, along with a long-overdue trip to JAPAN. Feel free to join us as we take a moment to look back on this past year. 

 

2023 Performances 

 

Loco Ladies Concert 


Taiko drummers

The 2023 season got off to a bang with a collaboration with the European Taiko ensemble - Loco Ladies. We were thrilled to host them in Calgary, where we spent two days learning from them prior to joining them in a concert on February 26. Each lady had a unique teaching style and positive spirit, leaving us energized with new taiko skills and even a brand-new composition which we co-created with the ladies! 


Three woman outside in the winter

Of course, we wanted to show the ladies a true Alberta winter welcome, so we started off their journey in Canada with a couple night stay in Bragg Creek, so they could unwind and recover from jetlag prior to

their workshops. Finally, our collaborative concert was a huge success – having sold out at Festival Hall in Inglewood!  

 

And as if Calgary wasn’t cold enough, we sent them North to Yellowknife to work with the fantastic taiko community there. Jokes aside, the ladies trouped out the cold weather and both of our taiko communities are richer from our time with them. Special thanks to SkyFire Taiko for helping us to bring the Loco Ladies to Canada, along with our generous donors, funders and volunteers who supported our project!  



 

Notre Dame High School 


Three members spent their lunch hour at Notre Dame sharing taiko with students in May. We are always grateful for the opportunity to be welcomed into schools to share the art of taiko. The excitement and curiosity demonstrated by the students is energizing. If you think taiko would be a good fit for your school, reach out to us! 

 

Tenting Product Showcase 


Taiko drummers performing in an inflatable dome tent

We were very happy to have the opportunity to perform at the Calgary Rugby Union for a product showcase for Tent Event and Special Event Rentals. It was a HOT day with excitement all around from inflatable games, glamping tents AND live rugby games! We enjoyed winding down from our performance with some cold beverages and some food at the Calgary Rugby Union’s clubhouse! 

 

Calgary Marathon 


This year we continued our annual tradition of playing bright and early for the Calgary Marathon. This show was a lot of fun, and it’s always great to see how enthusiastic the runners are! Plus, it’s great cardio for us too, and helps get us back in shape for our main show season. 

 

Canada Day Performances 


Our Canada Day was jam-packed, with a noon performance at Eau Claire Market in Calgary, followed by an evening show at Mitford Park in Cochrane. After our performance, we enjoyed the Canada day festivities including food trucks and watching the other great acts on the main stage in Cochrane! 

 

Calgary Japanese Community Association’s (CJCA) Stampede Breakfast 


This is always a special event for us (and not just because of the pancakes!). In addition to enjoying a great show and great food, we are always happy to connect with the broader CJCA membership and local Killarney community, in a fun celebration of the start of Stampede! 


Taiko drummers performing outside

Summer on 17th 


This year was the first year we’ve performed as part of the 17th Avenue Summer on 17th live music project, and it was a blast. The drums could be heard up and down 17th Ave, and by the end of the show we had a substantial crowd of folks drawn in by the beats! 

 

Omatsuri 


Another yearly tradition, on August 12 we spent the day at the Omatsuri Japanese Festival. Thankfully, this year wasn’t as hot as last year, and we had a lot of interest in our taiko demo after the show. If you haven’t checked out the Calgary Japanese Festival Omatsuri, consider adding it to your list of summer festivals to check out. Taking place at the Max Bell Arena, it boasts a wide range of vendors, entertainment, Japanese cuisine and... taiko! 

 

Private Corporate Event 


Hot off our show at Omatsuri, we had the privilege of performing that evening at a private event for over 1500 guests at the Telus Convention Centre. The energy in the crowd during our performance was so fun and lively! If you think you might want to book us too, please get in touch! 

 

UNIQLO Grand Opening 


Our members were excited for this one...UNIQLO grand opening in Calgary...need we say more?! This was a fun and different event for us – a short set while the first UNIQLO store in Calgary officially opened their doors in Chinook Mall. The line for the store was out the building, and our drumming attracted a large crowd of curious onlookers from the rest of the mall as well. 

 

Globalfest Main Stage 


Another summer favourite, we performed on the main stage for the festivals’ grand finale. This is always a fantastic show to play. We enjoy seeing the other performers, trying various cuisine from the food vendors and watching the fireworks together is the perfect way to wind down after our show. 

 

AirdrieFEST 


Outdoor family festival

Our second non-Calgary show of the year took us out to Airdrie, where we performed in the afternoon for AirdrieFEST. We enjoyed seeing all the activities that Airdrie makes available for families. We highly recommend checking out this festival if you can swing a trip out one year! 

 




Judo Canada Pan American Oceania Opening Ceremony 


Indigenous and Wadaiko performers pose for a photo

This year Calgary was fortunate to host the Judo Canada Pan American Oceania Championships, and it was our absolute delight to perform at the opening ceremony for the senior division alongside the DH Ranch 44 Indigenous Performers. This hybrid set combined traditional Indigenous singing, drumming and dance with our taiko rhythms, showcasing a unique blend of two incredibly powerful art forms.  


Indigenous dancers, drummers, singers with taiko drummers
Photo Credit: Antoine Saito - Judo Canada

CPS Half Marathon 


We closed off our performance season with another marathon session, this time performing for the Calgary Police Service Half Marathon. As this was at the start of October it was a chilly morning, but the drumming and the joy of the runners warmed us right up! 

 

2023 Workshops 

 

We were pleased to offer our first intermediate workshop since the pandemic, spanning three Sundays from Jan 8 to 22. Six participants joined us, and four ended up staying on as our new apprentice cohort! We continued to run taiko hours, fitting in six over the course of the year, and are excited to keep running them and sharing our love for taiko. 

 

2023 Taiko-Fam


A group of four friends posing for a picture

We are absolutely thrilled to have 4 new members – Andrew, Ethan, Pam and Katie. These four began their apprenticeship in March of 2023 and before the year was out had successfully completed the programme and been welcomed into the group. Each of them demonstrated passion and dedication to our ensemble and to the artform. We are so proud of their hard work and perseverance. Additionally since the spring, Ayuka hailing from Japan, has been joining us as a performer. She has brought with her a wealth of taiko experience and a warm personality - fitting in perfectly with our taiko-fam. Make sure to watch for these fab five in our upcoming show season!


Friends along the river

Our annual Midnight family camping trip took us to the prairies this year! Five of us plus our infamous taiko-toddler, enjoyed a couple nights at a campground near Carseland, where we enjoyed some walks along with river, and chats around the campfire.  



 

2023 Japan Trip 

 

A group of travelers in Japan

Finally, the biggest highlight of the year for many members was our taiko Japan trip, where we spent November 21-December 8 performing, learning, and watching taiko! At our peak, 14 members of our taiko extended family were together, making this an unforgettable experience for all of us and deepening our connections. Some highlights of the trip included: 


Performers posing for picture at Buddhist temple

Performances at Shokoji and Shoryuji Temples. These performances were on the second and third days of our trip, so the jetlag was fresh! But we powered through and saw some amazing taiko performances by Makoto Yamamoto sensei of Osuwa Daiko as well as shakuhachi performances by our dear friend Alcvin Ramos and his students. 





People tightening shime-daiko

Workshops with Osuwa Daiko, Tokara, and a Miyake workshop with Kazuhiro Tsumura sensei. We were extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from and with many great taiko instructors while we were there and have much to practice for 2024! 





Taiko performers

Chichibu Yomatsuri. This yearly float festival, which has been held almost continuously for 300 years, was a dazzling sight. In addition to the attraction of viewing the festival itself, this festival is the origin for a taiko piece we play called Yatai Bayashi, which is traditionally played by drummers inside of the floats while it’s being pulled along the city streets. Some of our members were even fortunate enough to play a little on stage with some local performers! 


Yatai float

Thank you! 

 

We want to extend our gratitude to all our teachers, mentors, volunteers, donors and supporters. Your attention and energy encourage our growth as an ensemble. To the Calgary community and surrounding area, THANK YOU for your continued support!

 

2024 is shaping up to be another exciting year with some big projects in the works, so be sure to keep an eye out! 

 

- Midnight Taiko Kai 

 

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