Announcing Soh Daiko’s 2023 Recruitment Workshops!

September 23rd, 2023 & September 30th, 2023

Update: Registration is FULL!

Do you love taiko? Have you always wanted to try playing taiko? Have you played taiko and want to join Soh Daiko, the first taiko group on the East Coast?

Learn to play taiko and try out to be a member of the group! No experience is necessary. We will provide everything you need to play.

Registration is currently full, but you can read about our recruitment workshops here!

This program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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A Trip to LA for EXTASIA!

That’s a wrap on our 2022-2023 season!

We ended our season with a trip to Los Angeles for a performance in Asano Taiko U.S.’s EXTASIA! In mid-July we boarded our New York and New Jersey flights and arrived to a warm welcome in Torrance, California. On Thursday, we arrived in LA with bachi and suitcases in hand and made our way to Asano Taiko U.S, a full-service taiko facility selling taiko related products and offering taiko classes for all levels.

We spent the weekend rehearsing, catching up with new and old taiko friends, and getting to know the area. On Friday, we rehearsed with Asano Taiko U.S.’s drums for the first time, running through our program of Soh Daiko signature pieces Yuudachi and Hachidan. Then on Saturday, we joined the other taiko groups at the venue for a technical and dress rehearsal.

Sunday, July 16 was the big day – we arrived at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Cente bright and early and got ready to start the show! We shared the stage with Miyakejima Geinou Doushikai from Japan, World Miyake Kai, Honoo Daiko from Japan, San Francisco Taiko Dojo, and Asano Taiko U.S.’s own performing groups, LATI-Gumi, UnitOne, UnitTwo, and the Asano Taiko U.S. Youth Groups, for an unforgettable celebration of Asano Taiko U.S.’s 10th anniversary. In addition to our two signature pieces, two Soh Daiko members joined representatives from the other groups for a combined piece called Summer Reprise to close the show.

Asano Taiko U.S. ended the weekend with a celebration banquet to commemorate 10 years in business. We heard stories from the company’s founders, from their students, from taiko groups who’ve been generously supported by Asano Taiko U.S., and our very own Alan Okada. Good food and the comradery of the taiko community made it the perfect conclusion to a long weekend!

We are so thankful to Asano Taiko U.S. for giving us this opportunity–it was an incredible experience meeting and playing with this incredible group of taiko players, and we’re glad we could bring some East Coast energy to LA. A big thank you also goes out to founding Soh Daiko members Alan Okada and Merle Mieko Okada and former members Nick Loh and Yue Qiu for returning to join us for this concert–we couldn’t have done it without you!

For the rest of the summer, our members will be enjoying a much-deserved break from rehearsals. But we’ll be back at it again in September, starting with our annual recruitment on September 23rd and 30th. Save the date now and check back here for more info in September–we hope to see you there!

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Happy Pride from Soh Daiko!

We are proud to have shown our love and support for the LGBTQ+ community at the NYC Pride March this past Sunday. We walked with the New York Buddhist Church and friends in the humid heat, playing handheld drums and twirling ribbons for crowds down 5th Avenue and through the West Village. In this time of increasing oppression for LGBTQ+ people, we cherished being able to celebrate and support one another in the fight for human rights for all.

Soh Daiko members, friends, and members of the New York Buddhist Church at the 2023 Pride March!
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Welcome, Charlotte & HanBin!

We are happy to announce our two newest performing members, Charlotte Whatley and HanBin Baik! Both Charlotte and HanBin joined our trainee program last fall and have practiced and performed with us throughout the year. You may have seen them playing the in our signature piece “Matsuri” as well as our newest piece, “Tsunagu”, which was taught to us by Kodo.

Charlotte began her taiko career with Gendo Taiko at Brown University, where she played for four years. Outside of Soh Daiko, Charlotte works as a tech analyst at Citigroup and does research on foundational models with the Center for Tech Responsibility at Brown. When she’s not working or playing taiko, Charlotte enjoys playing cello, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

Photos by Patrick Dufreche (1), Veronica Diaz (2), Peter Lichtenthal (3)

HanBin started Taiko with Stony Brook’s Taiko Tides and continued with New York Taiko Aiko Kai after graduating. He currently works as an App Developer in the Pest Control industry, and additionally serves as a Co-Chair of the Membership Committee in the Taiko Community Alliance. Outside of work and taiko, HanBin enjoys playing the piano and writing music.

Photos by Veronica Diaz (1-2), Peter Lichtenthal (3)

We are excited to see Charlotte and HanBin grow as performing members in the years to come. Please join us in offering them your congratulations and full support!

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Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

As Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month comes to a close, we are reflecting on how AAPI communities are inextricably woven into New York City and its history, from the many organizations that have fought for and protected AAPI communities to Soh Daiko’s own 40+ year history.

This past month we were able to come together with community leaders, elected officials, and the office of Mayor Eric Adams to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month at Gracie Mansion. We performed amid a number of other cultural performances, from dance to song, representing a few pieces of the wide cultural spectrum of the AAPI community. Although the month is over, we look ahead to the future and will continue to celebrate and uplift the AAPI community through music and performance.

Photo (right) by Kathleen Wah Lee
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Cherry Blossom Festivals Abound & More Shows to Come!

Between Bloomfest at NJ’s Branch Brook Park, JAANY’s Sakura Matsuri at Flushing Corona Park, and Randall’s Island’s Earth Day festival, we hope you got a chance to see us while the cherry blossom’s were in bloom!

Bloomfest! at Branch Brook Park
Photos by Matthew Tom-Wolverton

Now we’re gearing up for our May performances, starting with the Queens Public Library this Sunday, 5/7. Located at the Central Library in Jamaica, Queens, we will take the stage with favorite Soh Daiko pieces, plus audience participation and education on the history of taiko. This event is free and great for the whole family!

JAA’s Sakura Matsuri (left) & Randall’s Island Earth Day (middle & right)
Photos by Veronica Diaz

This past month we also joined Japanese Ambassador Mikio Mori for a press conference to announce this year’s Japan Parade on Saturday, May 13th! In just a couple weeks, we will drum our way down Central Park West alongside a host of other performers and community groups, featuring Grand Marshal Kristi Yamaguchi. This year there will also be a street fair held concurrently on West 72nd. You can read more about the parade at some through some of the press coverage – see here, here, and more! We hope to see you there!

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Celebrating Women’s History Month

Happy Women’s History Month from Soh Daiko! As the month comes to an end, we are reflecting on the women who have had an impact on Soh Daiko over the past 40+ years. Two years ago we shared a video of a conversation with the three women who helped build Soh Daiko and our repertoire from the start: Merle Mieko Okada, Teddy Yoshikami, and Jennifer Wada. This year, we spoke with two inspiring former members who were active with Soh Daiko in the 1990’s and who continue playing taiko to this day: Kelly Kuwabara and Kathy Fuller.

Kathy Fuller was a member of Soh Daiko from 1995-2000; she has since gone on to co-form San Diego Taiko in California. Kelly Kuwabara was a member of Soh Daiko from 1996-2001; she currently plays with Hoh Daiko in New Jersey and serves on the board of the Taiko Community Alliance.

We discussed how taiko empowered them as women, the role of mentorship and community in their Soh Daiko experience, and more. Check out our highlights from that conversation in the below short video, as well as the original video from 2021 here!

Thank you Kathy and Kelly for taking the time to chat with us, and for all you’ve done for Soh Daiko and the taiko community!

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