Yael Livny is a taiko student who once saw Portland Taiko perform at a school fundraiser and exclaimed, “I want to do THAT!” She grew up in an Israeli-American family in Berlin, Germany. When she is not drumming, Yael dances Butoh and practices law. She has previously served on the board of Portland Chamber Music and as president of the Oregon State Bar’s Litigation Section.
Scott Winner works at Bonneville Power Administration as an Operations Research Analyst. He holds degrees in Chemistry from Portland State University and has served on the Board of Directors of the Oregon Buddhist Temple. In 2017, Scott found the truck chassis for Portland Taiko’s festival float and has been a long-time supporter of Portland Taiko.
After taking my first taiko class in 2016, I was instantly hooked and humbled. Though I don’t have the strength or talent to be a performer, I’m honored to serve as a board member and help Portland Taiko further its mission. As a Japanese American (hapa/yonsei), I’m proud to be part of an organization that affirms Asian American pride and builds community through the international language of music. Prior to Portland Taiko I volunteered with Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls. I grew up in the Portland area and currently work as a freelance copywriter.
In 1994 my husband and I moved from Florida to start our lives in Portland. I started taking Taiko lessons in 2017 with a friend and fell in love with the art and how it strengthens the connection between mind and body. Recently I concluded my 30-year career in the food and nutrition business and now work with a group, Crossing Party Lines, that facilitates political discussions among those with different views. I was delighted to be invited to be on the board of Portland Taiko and am looking forward to contributing to the next phase of its growth and evolution.
Zack Semke is Director of Passive House Accelerator and a member of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps. He writes and speaks about the role that buildings can play in accelerating the clean energy transition. He helped found Portland Taiko in 1994 and served as Co-Director until 2005.
Ann Ishimaru (yonsei) is a founding member of Portland Taiko, former co-director, and currently an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, Organizations & Policy at the University of Washington. Her research seeks to cultivate community and educational leadership to foster educational justice in and beyond schools. Although retired from taiko performing these days, she still teaches taiko occasionally through temple (Seattle Betsuin) or when her daughter was in a middle school taiko group. She is happy to reconnect with PT as a board member.
As a Sansei, I’ve found that cultural traditions like taiko connect me to my heritage and my Japanese-American identity. I am always impressed with the energy and talent embodied in Portland Taiko performances. Through the Oregon Buddhist Temple, I have danced to the beat of the taiko at Obon and have attended taiko workshops. While I lack the stamina and talent to ever be a performer, I think I make up for it with my enthusiasm, respect, and support for those who do. In addition to Portland Taiko, I volunteer with the Camas Education Foundation and the Oregon Buddhist Temple. As a “retired” teacher, I have more time to enjoy sewing projects and traveling. My husband, Bill, and I have three adult sons. I joined the Portland Taiko Board of Directors in December 2015.
I worked in the railroad industry as an engineer, manager, and senior consultant for over forty years. Simultaneously I have supported and advocated for classical music as a board member of All Classical Public Media, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Choral Arts Ensemble, 45th Parallel Chamber Music, and Northwest Piano Trio. I recently joined Portland Taiko’s Board of Directors, but I have been a fan of Portland Taiko since its debut season in 1994. I enjoy the intimate works with taiko and strings, and one of my favorite memories of PT was Ann and Zack performing Confluence together.
(Artistic Leadership Team)
I first started learning taiko in 1993 with Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka and the San Francisco Taiko Dojo. When I moved to Portland in 2001, I joined Portland Taiko. I like that most of our repertoire is original, and I especially enjoy some of the more melodic pieces that incorporate violin. The first community-based composition I was a part of, A Place Called Home, was a memorable and educational experience for me. What I love about taiko is that it combines music and dance, two lifelong endeavors of mine. The best part of playing and performing for me is the connections that we make with each other and with the audience. One performance that will always stand out for me was the CD release party for our Big Bang. We played very close to our audience, and my son, who was less than a year old at the time, was sitting just a few feet away from me. When we played Ha!, which Kristy and I had composed while I was pregnant, he bounced up and down with joy, his face alight. That baby just entered high school, and my husband Jeff and I also have a daughter in elementary school. Both are in the Japanese Magnet Program. By day I’m a software engineer for Intuit. I love gardening and cooking, dabbling in guitar, ukulele, and recently, the cello.