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Yamato takes the stage as part of its Shin-on Tour

Yamato Taiko Drummers will blend theater and musical arts with comedy, dance, and athleticism in their performance 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14 at the Williams Center for the Arts. Larry Stockton, professor and head of music, will give a free pre-concert lecture on Japanese drumming traditions at 7 p.m. in the Williams Center room 123.

Tickets are free for students, $4 for faculty and staff, and $22 for the public. They can be obtained by calling the Williams Center box office at (610) 330-5009.

Future performers in this year’s Sound Alternatives series are the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble of Armenia on Feb. 5, $18 and New York Voices on March 29, $20.

Yamato was founded by Masaki Ogawa in 1993 in Nara, the ancient capital of Japan. The name of the ensemble is significant because “Yamato” was the name for Japan in the eighth century.

The taiko drumming group combines traditional Japanese musical formats with modern rhythms and themes. “Taiko” literally means “drum” in Japanese, but has come to refer specifically to a traditional Japanese drum.

In its earliest uses, a taiko was played on the battlefield to scare the opposing side’s soldiers. In modern times, taiko drumming has become popular since its appearance at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which inspired the formation of similar ensembles around the world.

Comprised of 11 performers from Japan, Yamato has performed more than 1,000 concerts around the world, including the U.S., Europe, Brazil, China, Korea, Indonesia, Austria, England, Belgium, and Germany.

Yamato are currently on their Shin-On, or “heartbeat,” tour. The drummers strive to express inner passion and energy to their audiences through their performance. The tour also conveys the ancient Japanese concept of “God-Sounds.”

Along with taiko artistry, the performance will feature other instruments of the Japanese folk music tradition, including a bamboo flute called a shakuhachi, a long-necked lute known as a shamisen, and the stringed koto.

This performance is supported by an ArtsCONNECT grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. ArtsCONNECT is made possible through major funding from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Regional Performing Arts Touring Program with support from Capezio/Ballet Makers Dance Foundation and Dominion Foundation.

The 2007-2008 Performance Series at Lafayette College is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; by provisions of the Josephine Chidsey Williams Endowment, J. Mahlon and Grace Buck Fund, the Croasdale Fund, the Class of ’73 Fund, the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence Program, the James Bradley Fund, and the Ed Brunswick Jazz Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour; the F.M. Kirby Foundation, the Dexter and Dorothy Baker Foundation, and the New England Foundation for the Arts.

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