New Interview: Ai Matsuda

We’re happy to release the latest in the TaikoSource interview series! This time, I spoke with Ai Matsuda. Born and raised in Japan before moving to Hawaii at the age of 16, Aichan has played with Hawaii Matsuri Taiko and the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, and has studied with Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka, Yuu Ishizuka, Classical Japanese music (Kabuki Bayashi) from Saburo Mochizuki, and Edo Bayashi/Shinobue/Shishimai from Kyosuke Suzuki of the Taneo Wakayama School of Wakayama Shachu.

During our conversation, we talk about Aichan’s experiences playing taiko in Hawaii, the mainland United States, and Japan. Aichan discusses the various roles that taiko has had in her life, the various identities that taiko has taken on, and how her relationship with taiko has changed over time.

Visit the interview page to listen to or download the recording!

Ai Matsuda


Recorded June 20, 2017. 61 minute, 41.7 MB mp3 file.

Born and raised in Japan until the age of 16, Ai Matsuda moved to Hawaii to study English. There she began to play Taiko with the Hawaii Matsuri Taiko lead by Mrs. Faye Komagata, her aunt at the Ryusenji Soto Mission Buddhist temple in Wahiawa, Hawaii. She then had the opportunities to learn from the Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo (recipient of the 2001 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts), Kiyonari Tosha of the Nihon Taiko Dojo in Tokyo, PJ & Roy Hirabayashi of the San Jose Taiko, Etsuo Hongo of the Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko, and Kenny Endo of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble in Honolulu, Hawaii. She became a member of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble in 1999, performing both in Hawaii and the mainland U.S. with Endo and other professional musicians. She has taught adults and kids classes at the Taiko Center of the Pacific. In 2011, she returned to Tokyo, Japan, and now continues her learning Taiko from Yuu Ishizuka, Classical Japanese music (Kabuki Bayashi) from Saburo Mochizuki, and Edo Bayashi/Shinobue/Shishimai from Kyosuke Suzuki of the Taneo Wakayama School of Wakayama Shachu recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Culture to be an “important intangible cultural property of Japanese fine arts”.

During our conversation, we talk about Aichan’s experiences playing taiko in Hawaii, the mainland United States, and Japan. Aichan discusses the various roles that taiko has had in her life, the various identities that taiko has taken on, and how her relationship with taiko has changed over time.

New Interview: James Beale

We’re happy to announce the next in our Interview series! This time, Ben spoke with James Beale. Relocating from the UK to the United Arab Emirates in 2014, James founded Shoten Taiko in Dubai, the first Taiko group based locally in the Middle East. In this discussion, we talk about his taiko journey, how playing taiko helped as he relocated to Dubai, and the idiosyncrasies that come with being the first taiko group in the Middle East.

Visit the interview page to check it out!

James Beale


Recorded June 10, 2017. 38.1 MB, 56 minute mp3 file.

Relocating from the UK to the United Arab Emirates in 2014, James Beale founded Shoten Taiko in Dubai, the first Taiko group based locally in the Middle East.

In this discussion, we talk about his taiko journey, how playing taiko helped as he relocated to Dubai, and the idiosyncrasies that come with being the first taiko group in the Middle East.

New Interview: Jennifer Weir

We’re happy to announce the release of another TaikoSource interview! This time, Ben spoke with Jennifer Weir of TaikoArts Midwest! In our discussion, we talk about Jennifer’s background and performance history, where taiko fits into her own journey, and the path from Theater Mu to Mu Daiko to TaikoArts Midwest, along with the challenges that come with starting a new taiko organization.

Visit the interview page to check it out!

Jennifer Weir


Recorded May 20, 2017. 39.2 MB, 60 minute mp3 file.

Jennifer Weir has been passionately studying, performing, teaching and composing taiko for the past two decades. She is the founding Executive Director of TaikoArts Midwest, Artistic Director of Ensō Daiko (formerly Mu Daiko), and a performing member of ensemble-MA, led by Iris Shiraishi. She is also a theater director and dramaturg with Theater Mu and a past recipient of grants from the Live Music for Dance MN, MN State Arts Board, MN Regional Arts Board, Arts International, American Composers Forum and Jerome MN Travel Grant. She credits Iris Shiraishi and Rick Shiomi with inspiring and mentoring her throughout her taiko career.

In our discussion, we talk about Jennifer’s background and performance history, where taiko fits into her own journey, and the path from Theater Mu to Mu Daiko to TaikoArts Midwest, along with the challenges that come with starting a new taiko organization.

New Interview: Brian Sole

We’re happy to release the latest in the TaikoSource Interview series! This time, Ben spoke with Brian Sole, director of Great Lakes Taiko Center and its performance group Raion Taiko. In our interview, we discuss Brian’s journey to Japan and back, and how taiko fit within this journey. We also talk about creating a taiko school and a taiko performance scene, and how one carves out a niche for oneself in a the cultural environment of a region.

Visit the interview page to listen to the interview or download the mp3!

Brian Sole


Recorded January 30, 2017. 37.5 MB, 56 minute mp3 file.

Brian Sole is the director of the Great Lakes Taiko Center and its performance ensemble Raion Taiko. In our interview, we discuss Brian’s journey to Japan and back, and how taiko fit within this journey. We also talk about creating a taiko school and a taiko performance scene, and how one carves out a niche for oneself in a the cultural environment of a region.

Kiyoshi Nagata

Recorded March 30, 2017. 47.4 MB, 69 minute mp3 file.

From the Nagata Shatchu website:

Kiyoshi Nagata, the ensemble’s artistic director, is Canada’s preeminent taiko soloist who has been performing in a career that spans 33 years. His principal studies were with Daihachi Oguchi (as artistic director and performer of the Toronto-based, Suwa Daiko from 1982 to 1992) and with Kodo (as an apprentice from 1993 to 1994). With the assistance of a Chalmers Performing Arts Training Grant in 1999, Kiyoshi studied classical percussion with Paul Houle at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Since 1998 Kiyoshi has taught a credit course in taiko at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. In September 2003, he began teaching a public course at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. For eight years, he instructed two community groups, Isshin Daiko in Toronto and Do-Kon Daiko in Burlington, which he helped establish in 1995. Kiyoshi is also regularly invited by universities and taiko groups to conduct workshops and present lectures.

In 1994, Kiyoshi founded the cross-cultural percussion ensemble, Humdrum, whose debut Toronto performance was ranked fourth in Now Magazine’s “Top Ten Concerts of 1995”. He has composed and performed taiko music for dance, theatre, film and radio and continues to collaborate with artists from all genres of music including traditional Japanese instrumentalists.

We spoke with Kiyoshi in advance of the release of Nagata Shachu’s Toronto Taiko Tales DVD and a series of concerts April 7-9 celebrating this release.

During our conversation, we covered a wide range of topics, including Kiyoshi’s performance background, playing taiko in Toronto, the act of collaboration, teaching taiko in a university setting, and the troubles of recording taiko.

The Discover Nikkei interview mentioned during the conversation can be found here.

New Interview: Jennifer Milioto Matsue

It’s time for another TaikoSource Interview! Returning to the taiko scholar sub-series we began last year, this time I interviewed Jennifer Milioto Matsue, Associate Professor in Music, Asian Studies, and Anthropology at Union College in Schenectady, New York. During our conversation, we discuss her background as both musician and scholar, her diverse research interests, and her work on taiko both as a researcher and as the instructor of a class/ensemble on taiko performance. Click here to access the mp3 and listen to the interview!