Lifestyle

UH Hilo Performing Arts Center Welcomes ‘On Ensemble’

February 28, 2019, 3:04 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 3:35 PM
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The UH Hilo Performing Arts Center is hosting On Ensemble on Thursday, March 7, 2019, at 7:30 p.m.

Established in 2002, On Ensemble is one of the most respected ensembles in the taiko world. Led by childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato (Maz) Baba, On Ensemble is recognized for infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences from jazz and rock to central Asian overtone singing. Their fearless musical exploration has expanded the artistic range of the taiko and has taken these ancient instruments into new realms. The group’s unique sound has been praised by critics as “completely original and brilliantly conceived.” Modern Drummer magazine calls On Ensemble “an exciting taiko ensemble looking at new ways to apply traditional Japanese drums.” On Ensemble was the first American taiko group to be invited to perform at the National Theater of Japan for the prestigious Nihon no Taiko concert series.

On Ensemble will be performing at UH Hilo on March 7, 2109. Courtesy photo.

The group’s leaders, Shoji and Maz, were taught taiko at an early age (8 and 6) by Maz’ parents, pioneering taiko players Jeanne Mercer and Russel Baba. Together with the other members of On Ensemble, Eien Hunter-Ishikawa and Abe Lagrimas, Jr., they combine their study and deep appreciation of Japanese traditional music with equally formative experiences as DJs, jazz musicians, electronic music producers, and rock bassists to produce, record and perform some of the most compelling and creative taiko music. The group has released three critically acclaimed albums, Dust and Sand, Ume in the Middle and Bizarre Heroes and their music was featured in the award-winning short film Yamasong.

For all of their avant-garde musical explorations, On Ensemble is supported by one of Japan’s most important traditional-culture bearers, Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten, instrument maker to the emperor of Japan. This support empowers On Ensemble to utilize authentic, rare Japanese instruments in its fearless exploration of taiko.

This project received support from The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts; WESTAF, the Western States Arts Federation; and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Tickets are reserved seating and priced at $25 General, $20 Discount and $12 UH Hilo/HawCC students (with a valid student ID) and children, up to age 17, pre-sale and, $30 General, $25 Discount and $17 UH Hilo/HawCC students (with a valid student ID) and children, up to age 17 at the door. Tickets are available by calling the UH Hilo Box Office at (808) 932-7490, Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or ordering online.

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