Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Taiko Master Kenny Endo Performs at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts (VRCFA) on March 31

Kenny Endo. Photo by Marcia Campbell

Kenny Endo. Photo by Marcia Campbell

Kenny Endo. Photo by Lia Chang

Kenny Endo. Photo by Lia Chang

The Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association (SOPAA) and Shawnee State University are presenting Kenny Endo, traditional Japanese taiko drummer, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, 2016, at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts (VRCFA), 940 Second Street, Portsmouth, Ohio 45653. Tickets are $25 for the general public, $23 for seniors, $17 for SSU students, faculty and staff, and $15 for children under the age of 12. Upper tier seating is available at discounted prices. Tickets are available at the McKinley Box Office, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon. through Fri., at (740) 351-3600, or online at Ticketmaster. Click here for more information.

Endo is the first Westerner to be granted the licensure to perform traditional Japanese taiko drumming. He traveled to Japan with the intent of staying for a year but instead, Endo ended up spending 10 years studying the art before he was granted his “natori,” the official name that serves as a license to perform.

Endo’s performance will include taiko drumming as well as contemporary works where jazz vibraphone, Hawaiian ukulele and traditional Japanese instruments are played with a rock ‘n roll energy. He will have the beat of the drums thrumming through your body for the entirety of his performance.

Endo has worked with numerous artists on many distinguished projects, including the opening for The Who, performing a duet with singer Bobby McFerrin, performing for Michael Jackson and Prince, as well as Princess Diana and Prince Charles. He has performed with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony and the Tokyo Symphony. Endo has recorded music for three films, Kayo Hatta’s Picture Bride, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, and James Cameron’s Avatar. Endo was also featured in PBS’s special, “The Spirit of Taiko.”

Endo is on the second half of his Kenny Endo & Friends: 40th-Anniversary Tour with Abe Lagrimas Jr. (vibes, drumset, ukulele), Sumie Kaneko (koto, shamisen, vocals). Check out the Kenny Endo Website for his upcoming performance and workshop schedule.

3/22 Rubendall Recital Hall, Weiss Center for the Arts – Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA

3/24 Manchester Craftsman’s Guild of Pittsburgh in Pittburgh, PA @7:30pm

3/28 Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, PA

4/3 Wilder Student Union – Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH @ 7pm

4/7 Spurlock Museum, Knight Auditorium – University of Illinois in Urbana, IL @ 7pm

The performance of Kenny Endo Contemporary Taiko Ensemble is sponsored by the Richard D. Marting Foundation.

The 2015-16 SOPAA/SSU season is presented with the support of the Ohio Arts Council, an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Portsmouth, The SSU Development Foundation, the Martings Foundation and the Scioto Foundation.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

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