TaikOz motto is: ‘To beat with every muscle, bone and sinew in our bodies with an open and joyous spirit.’
Established in 1997, TaikOz has grown into an ensemble comprising eight musicians who undertake a year-round schedule of performances, workshops and teaching. The group regularly tours throughout Australia collaborating with artists and organisations such as the Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, acclaimed choreographer Meryl Tankard, taiko (means drum in Japanese) great Eitetsu Hayashi and chamber music presenter Musica Viva. TaikOz travels internationally and in particular to Japan, where the group’s approach to taiko and shakuhachi (a Japanese end-blown flute) performance has received considerable acclaim. TaikOz members have trained and performed with taiko and over the course of ten years have collectively established a definitive Australian taiko sound.
According to their website: The fundamental basis of TaikOz’s performance reflects three principal areas of creative endeavour: the creation of new taiko music by Australian and international composers, which is based upon study and performance of drum and flute music from Japan, and the interpretation of music of contemporary Japanese composers such as Maki Ishii and Eitetsu Hayashi.
"Our aim is not to simply transplant one culture’s music into another’s, but to allow a new form of music to grow upon a sure foundation of understanding and application of Wadaiko (great or wide drum) technique and spirit."
From this basis TaikOz has developed its own sound by drawing upon the input of its members, whose musical backgrounds range from years of study and performance in Japanese traditional music, symphonic music, jazz and pop, as well as esteemed colleagues and teachers in Japan such as Eitetsu Hayashi, Fuun no Kai, past members of Sado no Kuni Ondekoza, and composer friends and artists, Meryl Tankard, Regis Lansac, Gerard Brophy, Michael Askill , Timothy Constable, Graham Koehne, Andrea Molino and John Bell. (TaikOz has recently been involved in the creation of a new production of William Shakespeare’s Pericles with Bell Shakespeare Company.)
Through the collective power of these diverse, but sympathetic, creative spirits, TaikOz has been able to forge a style all its own that reflects the members’ high energy, commitment and joy in making music.
Highlights include an invitation to present an all-Australian program at Tokyo’s National Theatre of Japan alongside Eitetsu Hayashi, Fu-un no Kai and didgeridoo virtuoso, Matthew Doyle. This followed a month-long tour of Australia with Eitetsu and Fu-un no Kai in 2006 marking the 30th Anniversary of the Japan-Australia Friendship Agreement. Previous collaborations with Eitetsu include the opening concert of the 2000 Sydney Festival, Kaikyousai Festival in Kobe and concerts at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre.
TaikOz recently presented concerts in Australia with Kodo. Five of the group’s senior soloists – Yoshikazu Fujimoto, Chieko Kojima, Yoko Fujimoto, Motofumi Yamaguchi and Eiichi Saito – collaborated with TaikOz on a program that drew on both ensembles’ repertoire featuring taiko, shinobue (Japanese transverse flute), dance and song. Other works with symphony orchestra include the World Premiere of Winners at the 2006 Brisbane Festival – a multi-media piece composed by Andrea Molino for Wadaiko, orchestra, saxophones and film.
TaikOz continues to create an exciting synthesis of East and West, old and new as it presents the world premiere of Blessings Of The Earth on November 14 at Monash Uni.