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The quiet season

The fall is often a quiet time for Portland Taiko, when we get back to basics in rehearsals. This year, we’ve been deepening our casting on some of our core repertoire, including having more performers working on melodic parts, such as fue or violin for All is Well.

We also have two new trainees who joined us over the summer, and have been learning repertoire more quickly than we could have imagined! 

Back to the Waterfront!

September is right around the corner and that means a return to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park for a free all-day celebration at the Oregon Symphony’s Waterfront Concert and Festival on Saturday, September 3rd. We are thrilled to share the stage with a bounty of amazing performers including MYSfits, Alonzo Chadwick and Zoulful, LaRhonda Steele, Jan Michael Looking Wolf, Orquestra Pacifico Tropical, Joe Powers and Courtney Von Drehle, and the Oregon Symphony!!! Portland Taiko plays at 2:15 p.m. and we hope to se you there!

Yael Livny

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.

Mike Sweeney

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.

Portland Taiko’s 25th Anniversary Concert

Saturday, November 2 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 p.m.
PSU Lincoln Performance Hall
1620 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97201
Portland Taiko’s 25th Anniversary Concert will feature current and past members, new works, and special guests Kenny Endo (Hawai’i), Tiffany Tamaribuchi (California), and the Kalabharathi School of Dance (Oregon). Please join us as we celebrate 25 years of drumming and community engagement! Tickets here!

Kaisho

My first experience with taiko was a parent-child workshop led by Karen Tingey when I was 4.5 years old. After several years of classes, I performed with Tanuki Taiko and Portland Taiko at Mochitsuki in 2013. In addition to taiko and piano, I also enjoy playing soccer and curling.

Jennifer Chiba

I have been a preschool teacher for 15 years and am a mother of two wonderful kids. Now that both children are away at college, I wanted to give back to my community and joined Portland Taiko’s Board of Directors in April of 2017. I first became involved with Portland Taiko seven years ago when my son, Toshiki, joined their taiko camp for a week. He fell in love with it and through hard work, eventually became a performing member. Being a member of the taiko community as a parent and now as a board member is an absolute joy and a wonderful learning experience.

Avis Newell

I first experienced Taiko in the mid 1980’s at a folk festival in Seattle, and loved it so much I kept my eyes open for more. I attended Portland Taiko concerts whenever I could once I moved to Portland. Last summer, my husband and I went to Symphony in the Park, making sure we caught the pre-concert Portland Taiko performance. That’s where we heard about Taiko lessons and we both signed up on the spot! Turns out I love drumming as much as I love listening to it. Last year I retired from work as an environmental scientist, so when I heard of an open board position, I decided to change careers and focus on supporting the arts.

Zoe Beyler

I started taiko when I was in second grade at the Japanese Immersion school I went to. I played with En Taiko for 8 years. After taking classes in the spring of 2016, I joined Portland Taiko as a trainee in fall 2016. I love being in Portland Taiko because of the variety of fun and interesting repertoire, but maybe more so because of the strong sense of cooperation and community. Getting to perform taiko for others and being part of the taiko community is an important part of my life. As a high school junior I am a musician, currently playing percussion in our school band and drums in the jazz lab, as well as percussion in The Portland Youth Philharmonic. < Back

Our new website

We’ve updated the look and content of our site – take a look around! You can always find the latest news here on the front page – to see old posts, look under the “About” menu for the archives. You’ll see our upcoming public performances on the front page, too.

On August 7, we had a successful full-length concert at Washington Park, as part of Portland Parks & Recreation’s Summer Festival series. Highlights included a collaboration with Portland Lee’s Association Lion Dance team, the return of Rachel Ebora as a performer, and bringing back some old favorite pieces we haven’t played in a while, such as To Fly (composed by Ann Ishimaru for fue, violin, and taiko), Forest Festival (part of Kenny Endo’s piece Wind, Water, Wood), Kaza Guruma (composed by Ringtaro Tateishi for Portland Taiko), and A Place Called Home, one of our community-based compositions from 2001. 

We look forward to seeing you at our fall concert on October 16, where we’ll host internationally-acclaimed group TaikoProject!

Toshiki Chiba

I have been affiliated with Portland Taiko since 2010, first as a summer student, then as a performer. Taiko was like nothing I’d ever done before and I became hooked. One of my favorite experiences playing taiko was at an outdoor performance at Washington Park in 2014, where thousands of people watched our high-energy performance. Playing taiko is one of my greatest joys in life as I get to express my musical joy with a bunch of great people/mentors who also share this passion.

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Linda Crum

My first encounter with Portland Taiko was attending their very first concert, and I’ve loved the music ever since. I serve on the Board of Directors, and love being a donor, audience member, and general dogsbody. While now retired, I spent thirty years in early childhood education where I was privileged to see young children experience the excitement of music. One of my favorite taiko experiences was a concert many years ago that featured then Oregon Poet Laureate, Lawson Inada—a great combination of words and music. I live at the Terwilliger Plaza retirement community with my husband of almost 51 years, himself a former drummer. We have 2 children and 7 grandchildren.

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Michael Hale

(Volunteer)

My first experience of Portland Taiko was a performance at the Chiles Center at the University of Portland. I came to the organization in 2004, in response to a request for volunteers in a PT newsletter for “2 hours a week.”  Ever since then, I have volunteered in the office as database support, network support, software consultant, and impartial ear. I enjoy bringing order to the data chaos when no one else has the time. I love hearing the development of pieces over time. I like big music, just like taiko. I volunteer as a tax preparer through CASH Oregon/AARP, and chair of the Architectural Review Committee of the Orenco Station HOA. I previously worked for Bank of America. I’ve been married 50 years; we have two grown married children who both live in the Portland area.

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Kana Heshiki

I first experienced taiko at a performance by Las Vegas Kaminari Taiko in 2007. Five years later, I enrolled in classes with Portland Taiko and joined the community group in 2013. I like the sound of the taiko. When I hit the taiko and focus on the movements and rhythms, I am able to disconnect from all the day’s stresses. I enjoy performing at community events, collaborating with other instrumentalists, building drums, learning about taiko and Japanese American history, and continuing the journey of learning taiko. I live in Portland with my husband and 4-year-old corgi. < Back

Wynn Kiyama

(Executive Director)

When I was a kid, my parents signed me up for classes with San Jose Junior Taiko. Years later, I started playing taiko taiko again with Soh Daiko in New York City. The group demanded an intense work ethic and commitment, but along the way, I experienced joy, pride, and a heart-warming sense of community. Joining Portland Taiko has renewed all of those feelings and I’m thrilled to be working and playing with such an amazing group of people! My greatest achievement has been turning my 4-year-old into a taiko drummer and bon odori enthusiast.

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Valerie Otani

I first saw taiko at the Cherry Blossom Parade in San Francisco. Big drums and dynamic playing on a float is still a dream I hope Portland Taiko can realize. I was part of the group that created Portland Taiko in 1994. I was intrigued by an art form that expressed cultural pride in a bold, commanding, and joyful way. I have been on the Board of Directors and worked on costumes and sets, but mostly I have been our internal ombudsperson. As a naturally shy person, taiko has helped me grow. One of my favorite memories was playing in the Oregon State Prison for the Asian club. It was very moving to express power and pride to prisoners who might not feel that way in their lives. I am an artist and arts administrator, deeply involved in the local Japanese American community. My husband is very supportive! Both of our sons played taiko and Kenji was one of the original members of PT when he was in high school.

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John Schumann

(Board Treasurer)

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.

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Chad Williams

My first exposure to taiko was at a kite festival in Long Beach, Washington, and it happened to be Portland Taiko! I joined the performance group in 2004 and the Board of Directors in 2011. Thinking back to my childhood, I was most influenced by arts education. I love how a taiko performance or workshop leaves such a lasting impression on its participants. One of my favorite PT moments was having the opportunity to perform for patients at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem—it was very rewarding to see their faces light up. < Back