YAMATO combines a sense of drama and strong percussion with the most physical form of music — Taiko drumming. Taiko takes an array of different-sized drums and other percussion instruments and melds them into a cohesive whole, akin to the drumlines found throughout the United States.
YAMATO’s instrumental variety ranges from the delicate patter of raindrops to rolling thunder to the human heartbeat. In particular, the massive, thunderous Odaiko drums are known for sending non-amplified shockwaves through large audiences, and even with the smaller bass drums it’s easy to see why these instruments’ original purpose was chasing away evil spirits and increasing morale in battle.
YAMATO combines drums with the timpani, flute and colorful, authentic Japanese costumes for an evening of highly-charged rhythm. With a performance described as “phenomenal skill and ferocity somewhere between the seriousness of samurai and the crazed exhibitionism of heavy-metal rock drummers” (The Telegraph UK), the men and women of YAMATO promise a heart-pounding spectacle of athleticism, grace, precision and musical expertise.
YAMATO’s show is more than just Japanese drumming — a tightly knit combination of music, choreography and special effects lighting that encompasses the senses and — especially with the titanic Odaiko drum — the soul. YAMATO’s drummers are not just musicians — they are also actors, known for infusing their performances with physical comedy, using exaggerated body language that effectively transcends linguistic and cultural barriers. The drummers play games with each other and the audience, pretending to “throw” the beat from drummer to drummer, and keeping up a high-energy atmosphere of friendly competition, while at the same time creating incredible music with perfect coordination.
As an enhanced benefit to audience members, the Norton Center and Centre College’s Dining by Sodexo will partner on Tuesday to celebrate the flavors of Japan with a themed dinner, complete with music and prizes, at Cowan Dining Hall in the Campus Center. This all-you-can-eat buffet starts at 5 p.m., is open to the public, and is only $8 at the door.
The Norton Center has also arranged for YAMATO to provide additional educational programs while in central Kentucky. On Tuesday, area elementary, middle and high-school students will attend a sold out student matinee performance as part of the Norton Center’s Professional Performances for Young Audiences Series.
Members of the company also will provide a percussion workshop for college students. Before the public performance, Centre students involved with the Japan Club will provide a display of Japanese culture and wear traditional Japanese clothing.
IF YOU GO
YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan
7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Norton Center for the Arts, Centre College
Cost: $23, $34, $45
Tickets: (859) 236-4692