I have spent Monday and Tuesday this week at the Sanderson Centre listening to 倭 -Yamato The drummers of Japan. My ears are ringing and my internal organs at one point were probably well on their way to turning into a gelatin like substance, but I just had to be there. One patron was heard to say that the drums were a visceral massage; the beat just went right through you.
I am an artist and photographer in my day to day life, but I’m also a percussionist as well. Listening to these men and women from Japan is something that I couldn’t resist and I’ve been looking forward to this event since the Sanderson announced the show a few months ago. I’ve been in love with this style of Japanese percussion since I first heard it way back in the 70s and will listen to it wherever I can.
The audience was small for both performances but everyone was enthusiastic and appreciative at each show. The performers are trying to bring the traditional Taiko drumming into the 21st century and they are succeeding admirably in my opinion. The performers as individuals engaged everyone through various comedic antics and expressions. The Monday night show was a little more sedate, with the audience being a more mature one (the older crowd), but the performers still managed to get people up on their feet with hands clapping and voices raised. The Tuesday matinee bunch however was something else again; here the majority of the audience was of a much younger age, most from various schools in the area including W. Ross Macdonald School. This audience really got into the whole performance from start to finish and the performers loved it. The enthusiasm was extraordinary by the end of the performance, and when the children were invited onstage to “play” the drums the enthusiasm went through the roof. Even the students unable to make it on stage were able to play because drums were brought to them.
Although the performances were more than I expected, it was something that I’ll never forget, I think the highlight for me was watching the children walking up to drums that outweighed them 10 to 1, picking up drumsticks that were almost as long as they were tall, and start with that first tentative tap on the skin of the drum.
Thanks to the Sanderson for hosting these performances. There are a lot of people who aren’t going to forget what they experienced listening to the drummers of Japan.
Submitted by: Dean Ellis
To see more of his work please visit: DellisartPhotographix