Seventh annual Dublin Taiko Gala is Saturday
An art from the Far East has drawn 65 Dublin students into its rhythm.
The Dublin City School District's Taiko program has 65 middle and high school students from throughout the district who have learned the ceremonial drumming of Japan.
The public can check out the action and support the program by attending the seventh annual Dublin Taiko Gala at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at Scioto High School, 4000 Hard Road.
"It's a fundraiser and big culminating concert," said Susann Barrett, program director.
Students from Barrington Elementary School in Upper Arlington will join the gala for the first time and play alongside Dublin's three groups.
Three different groups of Dublin Taiko players -- beginners, veterans and the Dublin Taiko Group -- meet weekly with Barrett for 90-minute practices.
"They're like 'Wow. I can't believe middle school and high school kids can do this strenuous music. They're so focused and it's so choreographed,' " Barrett said of the usual reaction to a Taiko performance.
"Everything has to match and not many people around here can see it."
The group is working to change that and travels throughout the district and country with performances.
"The beginners will do the Columbus Asian Festival," Barrett said.
"The veterans are going to play at Wright Elementary's International Festival. This year we were asked to play at the Columbus Arts Festival."
Many of the new members of the Taiko program were attracted to the artful drumming after seeing a performance.
"I saw a performance at the Asian Festival a few years ago," said Noah Issa-Abbas, a Davis Middle School sixth-grader.
"It turned out to be this group's performance. I knew I wanted to join."
Issa-Abbas is a first-year Taiko player and said the drumming that calls for large, choreographed movement takes a toll on the body.
"It's probably 85 percent physical and 15 percent musical," Issa-Abbas said.
"For the first few weeks after every class you have sore calves," he said.
"You're doing a lot of exercise, but as you stick with it you get used to it."
Davis eighth-grader Cheyenne Humphrey got involved with the group three years ago after watching his older sister participate.
"I like the variety of drumming and how they sound, the different pitches," he said.
Scott Trask has also been doing Taiko drumming for three years.
"I'm in a lot of music related stuff, but I never heard of this before," the Davis eighth-grader band member said. "It was a completely new topic."
Taiko has quite a few differences from being in band, though.
"It's more than just playing in a chair," Trask said. "It's choreographed moves."
Taiko has taken Trask to Indiana for performances -- one was televised.
"I like the people and the music and the drums," he said. "I like how it's so simple, yet so complicated at the same time."
The doors for the Dublin Taiko Gala open at 3 p.m. and the public can peruse silent auction items and concessions until the 4 p.m. show.
Tickets for the gala can be purchased at the door and are $8 for adults and $4 for students and children.
Proceeds from the gala will help with drum upkeep, uniforms, travel and future trip to Japan Barrett is planning within the next few years.