For us, Big Bang represents the sound of the taiko, but also the power of creativity, embodied by contemporary Asian American expression. So on this recording you’ll hear that unmistakable thunder, but also polyrhythm, melody and space. With this CD we are exploring new creative territory - thank you to all who've helped us get here. We stand on the shoulders of giants. Crank it up!
-- Ann and Zack
1. Oyakodon-don! Zack Semke
Exploring the relationships and interplay between PT’s big Okedo-Daiko (the mama drum at nearly 5' wide and 6' long) and the small okedo-daiko and shime-daiko (children drums), this piece features free solos built on a loose framework.
2. To Fly Ann Ishimaru
“A white horse stepped into the courtyard where I was polishing my armor. Though the gates were locked tight, through the moon door it came a kingly white horse. It wore a saddle and bridle with red, gold and black tassles dancing. The saddle was just my size with tigers and dragons tooled in swirls. The white horse pawed the ground for me to go. On the hooves of its near forefoot and hindfoot was the ideograph ‘to fly’.”; Maxine Hong-Kingston
Inspired by the ground-breaking Asian American novel Woman Warrior and the legendary tales of heroic Asian women, this piece explores possibilities for voice. It celebrates the strong Asian women who have inspired Ann both in legendary stories and in her own family and community.
3. All Is Well Teresa Enrico
Growing up, Teresa & her family experienced racism, the effects of war and other hard times - sometimes making her unsure that things were ever going to be all right. Today, Teresa has discovered ways to challenge those hard things. Playing fue connects her to a benign reality that reminds her that, for the moment, all is well.
4. Akatombo "Red Dragonfly" Naoko Amemiya
“Red dragonfly at sunset/A sight I saw while held as a baby./How long ago was it?/Picking mulberries in the forest field./Was that an illusion?” This piece is inspired by a well-loved Japanese children’s song, Akatombo. For Naoko, the song brings back memories of childhood and of her grandmother, who suggests steeping tea for the length of one song.
Akatombo melody: Kosaku Yamada Lyrics: Rofu Miki
5. Ha! Kristy Oshiro and Karen Tingey
"Ha!" is one of the many sounds that are used as kiai, or centered shouts, used in taiko to encourage one another and to bring the ki of the group together. The piece is a high-power celebration of the visceral sound of the drum.
6. From the Village Naoko Amemiya, Teresa Enrico, Ann Ishimaru and Zack Semke
In November, 2001 the three-woman ensemble Hanayui hosted members of Portland Taiko for a series of workshops at Kodo Village on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan. Moved by Hanayui’s artistry, generosity and magic, PT ensemble members wrote this piece and dedicate it to Yoko, Chieko, and Mitsue. The piece begins with the folk song “Machi de”, with harmony arranged by Yoko Fujimoto.
7. Salmon Ghost Song Zack Semke
Salmon Ghost Song was written in memory of Zack’s dad, Dick Semke, and his partner Ola Marsef. The house, garden and life that Dick & Ola created in the forest at their Salmon Ghost Ranch embodied peace, community and love for the earth.
8. Soliloquy Rachel Ebora
Early morning in LA, a lone fue player fills the empty plaza with entrancing melodies. Soliloquy is inspired by George Abe of Kinnara Taiko.
9. A Place Called Home* Ann Ishimaru and Portland Taiko
Guest artists: Mabel Shoji Boggs (voice), Eisaku and Alice Hiromura (voice), George Katagiri (voice), Ruth and Kenny Namba (voice), Henry Sakamoto (voice), and Blake Sakamoto (bell).
This work is dedicated to Mitsuru Kai Shoji and Oregon’s Nikkei, the work is inspired by the Japanese Americans of Oregon whose determination, strength of spirit and hope are a legacy to us all. The piece incorporates the Japanese folk song Usagi, played on fue.
Thank you to George Azumano, Mabel Shoji Boggs, John Murakami, George Katagiri, Sakae Miyashita, Chiyo Oga, Al and Masuko Oyama, Linda Tamura, and many others for their help in informing this piece.
10. Resonance* Zack Semke, Teresa Enrico, Naoko Amemiya, and Ann Ishimaru
Written for PT’s three largest drums, including the large Okedo-Daiko and the Shoji Odaiko, this work highlights each drum's unique voice and character. The piece begins with a mellow polyphonic groove accompanied by kulintang and wood box, then develops into a three-part counterpoint culminating with three improvised solos.
All compositions © (p) 2003 (Portland Taiko) (ASCAP)
* 2001 CREATE Initiative compositions commissioned by Mabel Shoji Boggs, Anonymous, Bob & Marcia Kakiuchi, Kenneth Corey, Fukumi & Larry Hauser, Eisaku & Alice Hiromura, Mikio & Vickie Ishimaru, and other generous donors.
Big Bang Donors
The composition, recording and production of this CD have been made possible by generous contributions from the following: the Okedo-Daiko Circle, including Mabel Shoji Boggs, Bob & Marcia Kakiuchi and Anonymous; the Odaiko Circle, including Kenneth Corey; the Chudaiko Circle, including Larry & Fukumi Hauser, Eisaku & Alice Hiromura, Mikio & Vickie Ishimaru, and Anonymous; the Sumo-daiko Circle, including Takeshi & Yoshiko Amemiya, Mandy Blake, Janice Choy-Weber & Tom Weber, Connie Masuoka, Dan Olson, Albert & Masuko Oyama, Jani Semke & Darryl Robbins, Karen Tingey & Jeff Hopper, Mari Watanabe, and Carolyn & David Woody; the Shime and Kane Circles and many other generous donors.
Other Thank Yous
Friends & family of Portland Taiko, Allen Foundation for the Arts, Arts Action Research (Nello McDaniels & George Thorn), American Composers Forum, Connie Cho, Janice Choy-Weber, Wing “Taiko Daddy” Choy, The Collins Foundation, Helen Daltoso, Kenny Endo, The Equity Foundation, Terry Franceschi and Parkrose Community Theater, Dane Fujimoto, Lynn Grannan, Hanayui (Yoko Fujimoto, Chieko Kojima, & Mitsue Kinjo), Rich Iwasaki Photography, Just Out, Bob Kakiuchi, Rich Kibbons, Eth-Noh-Tec (Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo & Nancy Wang), Kodo, Meyer Memorial Trust, Mark Miyoshi, Teriko Moriyasu, John & Sumi Murakami, National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Nikkei Endowment, Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Blake Sakamoto, Scott Sakamoto, Joni Shimabukuro, Ralph Smith Foundation, Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Tanuki Taiko, Minh Tran, Mari Uchishiba, Mari Watanabe, Carolyn Woody, and Gerald Yoshitomi.
Ann Ishimaru, Co-Director
Zack Semke, Co-Director
Anazao Chanpong, Operations Manager
Rachel Ebora, Artistic Staff
Teresa Enrico, Outreach Director
Portland Taiko performers
Robin Van Tine
Produced by: Blake Sakamoto, Ann Ishimaru and Zack Semke
Engineered and mixed by: Mark Frethem, Doctor Digital
Assisted by: Randy Johnson and Micah Gordon
Mastered by: Kevin Nettleingham Audio
Recorded at Parkrose Community Theater (March 2003)
Mixed at Doctor Digital (Spring 2003)
Manufactured by Northwestern, Inc.
CD Design by: Scott Sakamoto, Ronin Studios
Photography by: Rich Iwasaki Photography and Joni Shimabukuro (joniphoto.com)
This recording was made possible in part by Big Bang Benefactors Bob & Marcia Kakiuchi and Mabel Shoji Boggs.
About Portland Taiko
Established in 1994, Portland Taiko is an award-winning Asian American drum performance ensemble. Through artistic excellence and innovation in taiko, Portland Taiko inspires audiences, affirms Asian American pride, builds community, and educates about heritage and culture. For thousands of years, the booming voice of the taiko, or Japanese drum, has called the community together in ceremony and celebration. Portland Taiko echoes that tradition while taking Asian American music into unexplored territory with its innovative and provocative creations. The first professional taiko company in the Northwestern United States, the ensemble was selected by the NEA and the American Composers Forum to represent Oregon in the Continental Harmony project, has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, and reaches over 50,000 people a year with its blend of tradition and innovation. The group offers annual home concerts, community performances, adult and youth taiko classes, school assembly programs, Tanuki Taiko (youth performing group), and tours and residencies throughout the country.