We are lucky to have many wonderful performances programmed for our upcoming Fall Festival on October 17th, 2021. Please read the information about performers.
- Shishimai by Steve Long and Akiko Hiratsuka
- Koto Performance by Garrett Groesbeck
- Japanese Folk Tales by Noriko Oshiro
- Taiko Performance by Soh Daiko
Steve Long spent 11 years living, working, and studying in Japan, four of which he was a professional theater actor touring shows throughout Japan, performing in Japanese side-by-side with Japanese professionals. On return to the U.S. in 1996 Steve continued to use the performing arts to promote understanding of Japan and Japanese culture. In the early 2000’s he obtained an authentic Shishi-gashira (Japanese Lion head with concealing cape) from Uemoto Unosukeya in Tokyo and learned the Shishi-mai from Mr. Senou Maruichi, leader of the Tokyo based Edo Daikagura troupe. This began a tradition of Shishi-mai performances for the
New Year’s event at the Boston Children’s Museum, and other Japanese New Year’s events in the Boston and Westchester areas, as well as many other events in Southern New York and Southern New England. Over time Steve began to collaborate with Akiko Hiratsuka, a dancer/choreographer he knew from Japan. Their collaboration has generated important insight into the movement, greatly improving the quality of the dance. In 2018 the two were
married, forming a permanent team for the performance of the Shishi-mai. While COVID has disrupted their typical performance schedule, with the lifting of pandemic restrictions Steve and Akiko are looking forward to once again performing for all these events and more.
Garrett Groesbeck is a composer, performer, and ethnomusicologist currently pursuing graduate studies at Wesleyan University. He has played and sung koto music at events worldwide, including the Consul General of Japan Bon Odori Festival in Penang, the Japan Folk Festival in Prague, and the International Dulcimer Festival. He regularly conducts workshops, concerts, and lectures related to Japanese music, and has been profiled in Hogaku Journal and the Asahi Shimbun. As a member of gamelan jegog ensemble Sekar Sakura, he appeared alongside Grammy-nominated percussion group Tambuco at the 2016 Bali Arts Festival. In 2017 he received an MA in music composition and theory from Nagoya College of Music as a Ministry of Education (MEXT) scholar, focusing on new music for Japanese instruments. His research interests include transmission of the koto in the twenty-first century, dialogues around Japanese cultural identity, and Eurocentrism in music education.
Noriko Oshiro is a Balloon Twister who has been twisting balloons for approx. 10 years. She loves to create balloon art, for any kind of occasion including, birthdays, weddings, and parties. She has been making balloon centerpieces, columns, and arches for the Japan Society of Greater Hartford (JSGH) for five years now, and has made many famous characters, Pikachu, Hello Kitty, Totoro for the Japanese Society of Fairfield County. More recently she has been combining her balloon art with performance. She has danced Shishi-mai with a balloon Shishi (lion) and performed story telling of Momotaro using balloons. She is passionate about sharing Japanese culture and traditions with everyone through the power of balloon art.
Soh Daiko was established as the first taiko drumming group on the East Coast in 1979 under the guidance of the New York Buddhist Church. Reverend Hozen Seki gave the name “Soh Daiko” which means “peace, harmony, working together.” The group gained early instruction from taiko players who taught basic techniques and philosophy as well as drum building; and later, the group received advanced instruction from Sensei Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko Dojo. Soh Daiko’s current members come from diverse backgrounds and professions. The group’s repertoire includes traditional compositions from Shinto music, adaptations of existing taiko compositions, and original arrangements by its own members. Soh Daiko’s presentation also features movement and choreography, requiring strength, endurance, and energy, making for an exciting performance experience. Soh Daiko has performed at celebrated venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Radio City Music Hall, receiving critical acclaim from The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Dance Magazine.
For more information, please visit www.sohdaiko.org
Soh Daiko Member Bios
Name: Tamiko Ooka
BACKGROUND: Tamiko is the current chair of Soh Daiko. She also is a current board member and served as Vice Chair of the Taiko Community Alliance, a national taiko organization whose mission is to empower the people and advance the art of taiko. Her taiko journey began 30 years ago with Hoh Daiko, a community-based taiko group affiliated with the Seabrook Buddhist Temple in Seabrook, NJ. After graduating from Rutgers University, she participated in the JET program which brought her to Shizuoka, Japan. During her time there, she played with a local community taiko group in Shimizu City and also received instruction from Hase Mikita of Eitetsu Hayashi’s Fu-Un no Kai.
2002-2004, 2011 – Present Soh Daiko – New York, NY
Chair, Practice Leader, Performer
1991 – Present Hoh Daiko – Seabrook, NJ
Practice Leader, Performer
PERFORMANCES: North American Taiko Conference: Taiko Jam Concert 2011, East Coast Taiko Conference, Carnegie Neighborhood Concert Series, Brooklyn Botanical Garden Cherry Blossom Festival, New York Obon, Seabrook Obon, Japan Day at Central Park, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Festival, Asian Heritage Festival, American Museum of Natural History Cherry Blossom Festival, Make Music New York, Japan Society, Japanese Heritage Night at the New York Mets Stadium, Asian Heritage Night at Citizens Bank Park, PA, Dickinson College, PA
Name: Miyuki Takahashi-Rivera
BACKGROUND: Miyuki Takahashi-Rivera has performed taiko, traditional Japanese drumming, with Soh Daiko since 2007. During this time, she has performed at numerous events including the North American Taiko Conference Taiko Jam Concert in 2011, several concerts as part of the Carnegie Neighborhood Concert Series in various locations in NYC, and annual performances at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden Cherry Blossom Festival and New York and Seabrook Obon Festivals. Miyuki has also served as Practice Leader, instructing taiko and organizing practices, Performance Coordinator and as Treasurer since 2009.
Sep 2007 – Present Soh Daiko – New York, NY
Treasurer, Practice Leader, Performer
PERFORMANCES: Late Show with David Letterman, Good Morning America, Today Show – TOYOTA concert series, 106&Park, Late Night with Conan O’Brian, North American Taiko Conference: Taiko Jam Concert 2011, East Coast Taiko Conference, Carnegie Neighborhood Concert Series, Bronx Botanical Garden Autumn Festival, Brooklyn Botanical Garden Cherry Blossom Festival, New York Obon, Seabrook Obon, Japan Day at Central Park, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Festival, Asian Heritage Festival, Community Works, American Museum of Natural History Cherry Blossom Festival, Make Music New York, Dumbo Art Festival, Japan Society, Japanese Heritage Night at the New York Mets Stadium, Dickinson College, PA, Colby College, ME, ‘
Name: Jane Miyoko Conrad
Sep 2009 – Present Soh Daiko – New York, NY
Practice Leader, Membership Chair, Performer
BACKGROUND: Jane Miyoko Conrad has been a performing member of Soh Daiko from 2009, with over 15 years of taiko experience including performing in Japan from 2003-2006 with a community-based group at local festivals and the week-long, multi-stage 2006 Yosakoi Competition where she accompanied traditional Japanese dancing with her drumming. Upon joining Soh Daiko, she has performed at the New York and Seabrook Obon Festivals, Carnegie Neighborhood Concerts Series, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens Cherry Blossom Festivals, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Festivals, Japan Day @ Central Park concerts, and at venues such as the American Museum of Natural History, Jacob Javits Center, New York Mets Stadium, NY Japan Society, NBC Morning Show and a number of universities, colleges and venues across the country. Jane is half-Japanese and half-German, and has lived in Stamford, CT, Washington D.C., and Yamagata, Japan before residing in New York City since 2008. Jane currently serves as membership chair.
Name: Anna Croteau
BACKGROUND: Anna Croteau has been a performing member of Soh Daiko since 2016. During this time, she has performed with Soh Daiko at events like the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, several concerts as a part of Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concert Series, Cherry Blossom Festivals in the tri-state area, New York Obon and many more. She currently serves as Secretary and Costume Chair.
Sep 2016 – Present Soh Daiko – New York, NY
Treasurer, Practice Leader, Performer
Name: Julianna Hessel
BACKGROUND: Julianna Hessel has been a performing member of Soh Daiko since 2018, and prior to that performed with TCNJ Taiko, a collegiate Japanese drumming ensemble in New Jersey, from 2012 to 2016. She has performed with Soh Daiko at many events in the New York City area, including the Carnegie Neighborhood Concert Series, multiple cherry blossom festivals, the New York and Seabrook Obon festivals, and a segment on NBC’s Today show. Julianna currently serves as communications chair, including social media and other outreach.
Sep 2018 – Present Soh Daiko – New York, NY
Communications Chair, Practice Leader, Performer
Name: Keiko Yamamoto
BACKGROUND: Keiko Yamamoto joined Soh Daiko as a performing member in 2020. Prior to this, she has performed with New York Taiko Aiko Kai, a NYC-based taiko group, from 2016-2019. In the last 5 years, she has performed at numerous venues, including the NYCMarathon opening ceremony and many cherry blossom festivals around the tri-state area and Washington DC.
Sep 2020 – Present Soh Daiko – New York, NY