Kodo Drumming Ensemble Returns to Zellberbach Hall on February 3

Photo: Taro Nishita

Internationally acclaimed Japanese drumming ensemble, Kodo, returns to Cal Performances’ Zellerbach Hall on Sunday, February 3 at 7:00 p.m.  The athletic and energetic group performs in the taiko, or traditional Japanese percussion, style and includes traditional dancers, singers, musicians along with its percussionist. Kodo will bring along its landmark o-daiko drum, a 900-pound instrument carved from the trunk of a single tree and is played by two men. Kodo returns as part of its One Earth Tour: Legend, a program designed to spread the sound of the Japanese drum while underlying a need for respect between diverse cultures in an ever connected world.  The New York Times applauded Kodo as a “celebration of music, of physicality, of life.”

The name Kodo comes from two Japanese characters for child and play, conveying its desire to play with the “heart of a child.” Kodo is also a homonym for heartbeat, the most primal of all rhythms. The company, a group of over 70 people, is comprised of both performers and staff and is based off of Sado Island, off the northwest coast of Japan. Members not only practice but often live on 13.2 hectares of land, named Kodo Village, a community training ground that includes facilities such as Kodo Apprentice Centre and the Old Rehearsal Hall. Older members live in the surrounding villages.  Many enter this semi-isolated community as apprentices hoping, after a few years of training, to be selected to join the performing aspect. In addition to the musical lessons, physical conditioning is an important part of Kodo’s training as strength is needed not only to play the drums but also loads, unloads and sets up the instruments including the o-daiko drum that require eight people to lift and set into place.  Despite its physical isolation and tradition, Kodo has an open -minded mission on “living, learning and creating” and are often leaders in fusion music, especially with it recent increase in smaller small group performances.

Kodo has given more than 3,500 performances on all five continents, touring up to eight months a year and is recognized as the leading voice on the taiko style.  In 2011, Kodo released an album titled Akatsuki.  This 11-track disk was recorded at Kodo Village and includes new compositions as well as never-before-recorded stage pieces.  Kodo is also heavily involved with “Earth Celebration” an annual music festival produce with Sado City.  This festival, the longest in Japans history, has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, and has been hailed as “Japan’s leading music event” (New York Times). Kodo was last seen here at Cal Performances in 2011. For more information about Kodo, go to kodo.or.jp/news/index_en.html


 Tickets for the Kodo on February 3rd at 7:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall range from $22.00 – $58.00 and are subject to change. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at www.calperformances.org; and at the door.  Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. UC faculty and staff, senior citizens, other students and UC Alumni Association members receive a $5.00 discount (Special Events excluded). For select performances, Cal Performances offers UCB student, faculty and staff, senior, and community rush tickets.  For more information about discounts, go to http://calperformances.org/buy/discounts.php or call (510) 642-9988.

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