Midare Matsuri (Traditional, arranged by Portland Taiko)
Based on festival rhythms, this piece was introduced to the United States by Sukeroku Daiko of Tokyo and the San Francisco Taiko Dojo. Portland Taiko’s arrangement includes energetic solos and flowing patterns for the whole group.
Tatsumaki (Hiroshi Tanaka)
Whirling movements evoke the dynamic energy and sheer power of nature’s forces. Tatsumaki is one of the first pieces Ann Ishimaru and Zack Semke brought to Portland in 1994, and Portland Taiko’s arrangement of this popular work emphasizes the exuberance and joy of playing taiko.
Changing Landscapes (Masato Baba)
While on tour with taiko legend Kenny Endo, Masato was inspired by the vast array of landscapes on the “Big Island” of Hawai’i. This song expresses the emotions evoked by the volcanoes, jungle, mountains, and grasslands, and ends with impressions of the ocean.
Pacific Voices (Zack Semke)
Written for violin and taiko, this piece was inspired by the breathy sounds of the shakuhachi flute, an instrument capable of expressing both the serene and the turbulent. The duet further explores the dualities of the violin and taiko and the interplay between West and East.
Gathering (Portland Taiko, melody by Zack Semke)
Valerie Otani, our beloved co-founder, friend, and mentor, passed away from cancer in 2020. Together, the group started writing a tribute with an Okinawan-inspired melody (reflecting her mother’s side) and Valerie’s signature moves. When our eyes meet onstage, we remember Valerie and all the joy she inspired.
All is Well (Teresa Enrico)
This piece transforms painful memories of hardship and racism into a reclamation of inner peace: “When I play the fue (Japanese flute), I am reminded that there is a benign place I can connect to. I can remember that, for the moment, All is Well. I hope you can too.”
Fusion (by Teresa Enrico and Toshiko Tanaka)
Taiko in America reflects both the Japanese tradition and its new American musical landscape. In this case, Fusion evokes the music of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, and is a blend of taiko with a funky, dance beat that makes you want to move.
To Fly (by Ann Ishimaru)
Inspired by a passage in Maxine Hong-Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and the legendary taoles of heroic Asian women, this piece explores the possibilities for voice—both the musical voices of different instruments and the often silenced voices of Asian Americans and their stories.
HA! (by Kristy Oshiro and Karen Tingey)
“Ha!” is one of the many sounds used as kiai, or shouts of encouragement to unite the group. Kristy Oshiro and Karen Tingey wrote this piece as a high-powered celebration of the visceral sound of the drum.