Learning / I don’t know if you’re aware, but we also have another master in our midst: an actual taiko master. Honolulu’s Kenny Endo has studied with San Francisco Taiko Dojo (the first multi-drum taiko group outside of Japan) when honing his chops, and learned the roots of the form with Sukeroku Taiko in Tokyo. Endo has performed with Bobby McFerrin, opened for The Who, recorded music for James Cameron’s Avatar and played for audiences that included Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and Prince.
It’s through the Statewide Cultural Extension Program that he and his ensemble is brought to Waipahu and Waimanalo Libraries for The Art of Taiko featuring Kenny Endo and his Ensemble, a performance and brief lecture on the art of taiko, with mentions to its history, the cultural roots, techniques and introduction to the Japanese technique.
“[Under] my philosophy, about 75 percent of that time is actual performing,” Endo says. “We’re going to perform four pieces, and in between I’ll be explaining about some of the instruments, explaining how we learn to play.” As an educator, Endo started the Taiko Center of the Pacific, a school that offers programs to students anywhere from ages 5–adult. “I’m very happy to share my knowledge and my experiences with people, and I think it’s great that there’s an interest in it. I think Hawaii’s a great place for cultural diversity, [and taiko is] one more choice for people to do.”
Learn about a musical art form from one of its living legends while making a hell of a lot of noise in the process. “It is a lot of fun to play the drums in the library, where people usually tell you to be quiet. So when people get the chance to play, we get a lot of volunteers.”