On Wednesday, June 5, 2013, revered Hawaiian taiko master Kenny Endo joins forces with Japan’s trad-pop musical virtuoso Hiromitsu Agatsuma on tsugaru-shamisen (a three-stringed banjo-like instrument which originated in Northern Japan). Endo’s adrenaline-pumping performance vibes with Agatsuma’s fast, aggressive percussive sound, as they together, push the limits of one another’s instruments. Known internationally for border-crossing fusions and appealing contemporary expressions, these two musicians deliver a dazzling and unforgettable evening in their much-anticipated return to the Japan Society stage! Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street in New York. Tickets are $32/$27 Japan Society members. Buy tickets online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. – Fri. 11 am – 6 pm, Weekends 11 am – 5 pm.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kenny Endo began early training in western drums and percussion. He began his taiko career with the first two kumi-taiko groups established outside of Japan – L.A.’s groundbreaking Kinnara Taiko, and then with the renowned San Francisco Taiko Dojo. In 1980, he embarked on a decade-long odyssey in his ancestral Japan, studying and performing with Osuwa Daiko, Sukeroku Taiko, Oedo Sukeroku Taiko, Hogaku Hayashi with Mochizuki Ryu, and Matsuri Bayashi with Maru Kenjiro He has the honor of being the first foreigner to have received a “natori” in hogaku hayashi.
In the greater musical world in America, “Kenny Endo” has become synonymous with the word “taiko.” He is one of the most versatile musicians in the genre, crossing easily between the traditional and his own globally-inspired style. Endo also has an MA in Ethnomusicology and is highly sought after for educational programs and workshops.
Endo has recorded five CDs of original taiko compositions and his latest CD release is “Convergence”, a collaborative work with Kaoru Watanabe, which is now available on CD Baby. He was a featured artist on the TV special “Spirit of Taiko” in America and as artist-in-residence at New York’s Lincoln Center Institute. A consummate artist, he blends Japanese taiko with rhythms influenced by his jazz background and by collaborations with musicians from around the world. He has performed for musicians Prince and the late Michael Jackson, as well as the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles. He has performed with Japanese musicians Hayashi Eitetsu (taiko), Sato Michihiro (Tsugaru shamisen), Semba Kiyohiko (percussion), Watanabe Kazumi (jazz guitar), Uzaki Ryudo (rock & roll), Koinuma Hiroyuki, Leonard Eto, Hirota Joji, John Kaizan Neptune, Christopher Yohmei Blaisdel, Amanojaku, and many others. He opened for The Who, performed a duet with singer Bobby McFerrin, and is featured on the soundtracks of Kayo Hatta’s “Picture Bride,” and “Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.” He also recorded in motion capture suit for James Cameron’s “Avatar.” He has also performed as guest soloist with the Honolulu Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, traveling across Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, the former Soviet Union, and the Americas in his effort to share taiko with the world. Endo had a day named for him – “Kenny Endo Day” – by the Mayor of Honolulu, and was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts for American Masterpieces. www.kennyendo.com
Other Articles by Lia Chang
Taiko Master Kenny Endo and Hiromitsu Agatsuma on Shamisen at Japan Society on June 5, 2013 http://wp.me/pla1d-7ND
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Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. This summer, Lia will appear as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Penwah, July 30-August 1, 2013.
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