Philharmonic Society of Orange County

Philharmonic Society presents OC premiere of Evolution, new production by taiko drumming troupe Kodo

The Philharmonic Society of Orange County is pleased to present the Orange County premiere of Evolution, a new production by world-renowned taiko drumming troupe Kodo, on Sunday, February 10, 2019, 7pm, at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts. This performance is part of the Philharmonic Society’s Eclectic Orange series, sponsored by Judith and Howard Jelinek.

For decades, Kodo has led the genre of taiko performance with dedication and innovation. With Evolution, Kodo expands to new heights of creative expression. Tamasaburo Bando has crafted a program that places Kodo’s best-known work alongside some of the core repertoire, highlighting both men and women of the ensemble. Signature pieces like “O-daiko” and “Monochrome”, which have been synonymous with Kodo since group’s early days, are now integrated with more recent work such as “Kusa-wake” and “Color.”

This combination of classic and current is complemented by new compositions created especially for this production. “Ayaori” is intricate and uplifting, while the climactic “Rasen” features motifs of an array of Kodo pieces from various eras of the ensemble’s history. The result is a rousing whirl of energy that carries the audience into a new dimension of taiko performance.

Evolution is a program of large-scale works performing on a wide variety of drums with impeccable precision, from the Katsugi Daiko (or “portable taiko”) drums to timpani to the massive 660-pound o-daiko drums. The show also highlights dance, song and bamboo flute performances, and incorporates surprising visual effects. Following its premiere in August 2016 at Suntory Hall in Tokyo as one of three Kodo 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts, Evolution toured extensively throughout Japan and Europe.

The 2019 North American tour will be the first time this work is presented in the Americas. The touring company of Evolution features 16 Kodo members: fifteen full and one junior. Within the company, there are four women, and two members born in the United States: Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga, a member since 2016 from Michigan, and Taiyo Onoda, a junior member since 2018 from California. Program repertoire below. For a preview of Evolution, visit HERE.

In Japanese, the word “Kodo” holds a double meaning. It can be translated as “heartbeat,” the primal source of all rhythm. If read in a different context however, Kodo can also mean “children of the drum,” which reflects the group’s desire to play the drums with the simple heart of a child. Since the group’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo has given 6,000 performances in 50 countries on five continents. The ensemble also participates in a wide range of projects and events, which includes headlining major international festivals, contributing to motion picture soundtracks, and collaborating with a wide variety of global performing arts leaders.

Kodo’s members and staff are based in Kodo Village, a 33-acre self-contained section of the Ogi Peninsula on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan, isolated from the rest of the island’s residents. Since 1971 Sado Island has been the home to Kodo, some of the most disciplined performers in the world, whose work and artistry transcends borders, genre and time. In this beautiful natural environment Kodo developed their extraordinary compound, devoted to creativity, education and exchange which includes a central office building, a rehearsal hall, residential building and guest house, a workshop, and a recording studio. For more information, visit HERE.

Also located on Sado Island, about an hour away from Kodo Village, is the legendary Kodo Apprentice Centre. The two-year apprenticeship, which is open to any qualified individual world-wide with advanced Japanese language skills, includes learning the fundamentals of traditional Japanese culture, and developing practical skills through training and activities with Kodo.

As apprentices, company hopefuls’ time is solely dedicated not only to taiko performance, but to a variety of disciplines such as farm work and folk dance and song, all while living communally without television, internet, phone, alcohol consumption, or dating. After successfully completing their studies at Kodo Apprentice Centre, apprentices may be selected to become junior members of Kodo Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble for one year, during which they train and perform as probationary members of Kodo. At the end of this trial year, junior members who pass a final selection stage are invited to become fully-fledged Kodo performers. For more information, visit HERE.

Tamasaburo Bando is a leading Kabuki actor, and the most popular and celebrated onnagata (actor specializing in female roles) currently on stage. His theatrical directing credits includeRomeo & Juliet and Kaijin Besso and he has directed the films Gekashitsu, Yume no Onna, and Tenshu Monogatari. Bando accepted the invitation to become Kodo’s artistic director from 2012-2016, and was recognized as an Important Intangible Cultural Property Holder (“Living National Treasure”) in Japan. In 2013 he was decorated with the highest honor––Commander–– of France’s Order of Arts and Letters.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, is located at 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Ticket prices start at $28 and are available at the Philharmonic Society box office at (949) 553-2422, online at, and at the Center box office at (714) 556-2787. A limited number of box seats are also available for purchase. Call for pricing and availability.

Founded in 1954, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County presents the world’s most acclaimed symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, soloists and international artists for the enjoyment and appreciation of Orange County audiences. A catalyst for cultural and educational development throughout the region, the Philharmonic Society is a key resident company in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and also presents concerts at various venues throughout Orange County.

For more than 60 years, the Society has presented artists who set the standards for artistic achievement: Sir Georg Solti, Itzhak Perlman, Jacqueline du Pré, Daniel Barenboim, Lorin Maazel, Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming and Cecilia Bartoli, to name just a few. In addition, many of the world’s greatest orchestras have performed in Orange County by invitation of the Philharmonic Society, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, among others.

From 1999-2004, the Society celebrated the diversity of our cultural landscape with Eclectic Orange Festival presentations. Eclectic Orange events championed contemporary composers through commissions and sponsorship of regional and world premieres. Among the living composers presented were Tan Dun, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, John Adams, Edgar Meyer, Burhan Öçal and Mikel Rouse. Past presentations include the West Coast premiere of Steve Reich’s “The Cave,” the Southern California premiere of Terry Riley’s “Sun Rings,” the United States exclusive engagement of Théâtre Zingaro, and the West Coast premiere of “Orion” by Philip Glass. The Society revived its Eclectic Orange brand in 2015 to offer diverse programming such as cross-genre or world music performances to celebrate and serve Orange County’s diverse demographics.

The Society’s nationally recognized Youth Music Education Programs, one of the most extensive music education programs of its kind in the country, are offered free of charge to schools, students and parents, and each year reach more than 160,000 students from elementary through high school. These programs are made possible by the tireless volunteerism and fundraising of The Committees of the Philharmonic Society.

The Society’s volunteer force and one of its principal fundraising sources, The Committees are made up of 800 volunteer members who provide more than 90,000 hours of in-kind service each year in developing, implementing and evaluating the music education programs. The Committees also present a wide variety of fundraising events, including the Philharmonic House of Design and the Huntington Harbour Cruise of Lights®.

In 2017, the award-winning Orange County Youth Symphony merged with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, representing a natural evolution for the two organizations after more than 30 years of partnership. The exceptional young musicians of the Youth Symphony have exciting opportunities to further develop and nurture their talents through engaging in exclusive opportunities with some of classical music’s most celebrated artists, performing in concerts at world-class venues, learning and playing professional repertoire, and experiencing concerts by the greatest classical musicians of our time at Philharmonic Society presentations.

This article was released by the Philharmonic Society.