When I worked with Obo and Susan Addy to bring their performance aesthetic into my classroom, I attended the remarkable collaboration with Portland Taiko. That ecstatic celebration of the worlds of percussion living in Portland made a deep impression. In addition, Portland Taiko became family as Kelsey Furuta joined Portland Taiko AND married my nephew Brian Sweeney! And Portland Taiko represents the connections of Japanese and other Asian connections deeply entwined in my identity as a “Portlander.” When asked to join the Board, I accepted, realizing that there is so much to learn, so many new peoples’ stories to heard and that the performance culture of Portland Taiko does indeed celebrate and create this city’s identity.
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.