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The Wadaiko Yamato ensemble will bring the visceral power of authentic Japanese taiko drumming to the Williams Center for the Arts 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9.

Tickets cost $20 and can be ordered by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

Larry Stockton, professor and head of music, will give an introduction to the history of taiko drumming within Japanese culture and society noon-1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, in Williams Center room 123. Stockton will use audio and video examples in his presentation. Lunch will be available for $3.

Following such memorable Williams Center engagements as Kodo, Ondekoza, and SamulNori, Wadaiko Yamato offers an inspiring and intensely physical performance, with a beat resonating from the delicate tapping of falling rain to explosions of rhythmic exhilaration.

“This is a show of unbridled enthusiasm, much humour, and great musical varietya performance of such rampaging energy that it threatens to bring down the house,” writes The Scotsman. “If you’re looking for inspiring drumming and infectious dance rhythms, you’ll be disappointed,” states The Guardian (London). “This is much, much more.”

Founded by Masaki Ogawa in 1993, Wadaiko Yamato has given more than 800 performances in western and northern Europe, Israel, Brazil, and several Asian countries. The group is making its first North American tour.

Wadaiko is a drum believed to have existed in many parts of the world; Yamato is both the former name of Nara (the city where the group is based) and for Japan itself. It is also a special word for the Japanese, evoking a peaceful and artistically important period of their history.

The concert and lunchtime presentation are both part of Lafayette’s biennial Roethke Festival, named for Theodore Roethke (1908-63), a former Lafayette faculty member and noted poet of the 1940s and ’50s. Roethke published several critically acclaimed volumes of poetry, including The Waking, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1954. This year’s festival is titled “Icons of Memory/Voices of Myth.”

The 2001-2002 Performance Series at Lafayette is supported in part by gifts from members of Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts, and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

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