"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
MUGENKYO TAIKO DRUMMERS
the Civic Theatre
are a reliable crowd-pleaser and rabble-rouser – think of this
year's Olympic entertainments.
Taiko tradition is kept alive in Scotland by the stupendous Mugenkyo
Company, back at the Civic on their latest nationwide tour.
an impressive cross-cultural experience, very theatrical, with
atmospheric lighting and choreography and a strong sense of ritual –
kendo meets kabuki. The repertoire is a canny mix of traditional and
modern. The drumming is thrillingly precise, a dazzling display of
split-second synchronicity that never ceases to amaze. Four players
sharing three drums, two players attacking either end of the huge
odaiko, and the thrilling crescendo in "Todoroki", where
the building shook in rhythm with the thunderous hoofbeats.
there music as well, or is it just drums ?" wondered the woman
behind us. The token Oriental in the company, New York-based Nobuko
Miyazaki, played flutes both Western and bamboo, often blending with
the percussion, but also a welcome sorbet between bouts of drumming.
Chanting, temple bells, rainsticks and cymbals all created a very
Japanese ambience; less authentic perhaps were the moments of humour
– the handheld drums, like giant ping-pong bats – and the very
Western desire to get the audience involved.
are perfectionists, and passionate about what they do. Their
enthusiasm is contagious, but it is their musicianship and stagecraft
that leave a lasting impression.