Taiko master drummer to appear in concert on McDaniel’s stage

October 26, 2010

Japanese-style drummer, composer and teacher Kenny Endo and his ensemble will present his 35th anniversary concert and classroom workshops Nov. 8 to highlight McDaniel’s new Asian Studies major.

The concert, at 7:30 p.m. on stage in WMC Alumni Hall, is free and open to the public.

A leader in contemporary percussion and rhythm, Endo has paved new paths in the Japanese style of drumming known as taiko. He blends Japanese taiko with rhythms influenced from his jazz background and collaborations around the world into original melodies and improvisation. The music resonating from the ensemble’s stage is created through such instruments as vibraphones, bamboo flute, Japanese zither known as koto and the three-stringed shamisen in tandem with the dynamic, almost thunderous sounds of Endo’s taiko drums.

Endo’s 35th anniversary tour features an all-star cast of musicians premiering his most recent work, “Gateway – Ma vs. Groove,” which explores the Japanese concept of “ma,” or interval, against the Western musical concept of groove, or playing with swing. In western music, the space when no sounds are made is called a rest – while in Japanese music as much energy goes into the ma as into the sounds. The space in rhythm creates the feeling of propulsion and energy in the music.

“The ‘gateway’ between silence and sound, rubato and pulse, East and West,
mind and body, and between audience and performer, is a constant theme in my compositions,” Endo says in his artist statement.

Founder and artistic director of Taiko Center of the Pacific based in Honolulu, Endo has a master’s degree in Music with a specialization in ethnomusicology. He is the first non-Japanese national to be awarded a natori (which is both a stage name and master’s degree) in hogaku hayashi, or Japanese classical music.

Endo will hold a drumming workshop in Music adjunct lecturer Jon Seligman’s global drumming class and talks in Music professor Robin Armstrong’s world music class and Art History professor Susan Scott’s Japanese Art class.

“Kenny Endo is the perfect way to highlight our new interdisciplinary Asian Studies major,” said Theatre Arts professor Elizabeth van den Berg, who was instrumental in bringing Endo to campus.

McDaniel’s Asian Studies program is designed as a comprehensive, multicultural and multidisciplinary examination of the history, society, arts, cultural traditions and contemporary significance of the nations and peoples of Asia, especially East Asia.

The Kenny Endo Gateway: Ma Vs. Groove concert is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant culture community were the arts thrive, and was funded in part by a Community Arts Development Grant from the Carroll County Arts Council and a grant from the Baltimore-based Richard and Rosalee C. Davison Foundation. Additional support for this concert provided by McDaniel College departments of Art, Mathematics, Music, and Sociology; the offices of the president, provost, registrar, and diversity and multicultural affairs; and the McDaniel Asian Community Coalition.