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Japanese drum ensemble to visit Dickinson

Running and drumming are one. This is the guiding principle that Ondekoza lives by, a principle that inspires their high-energy drum performances, known the world over--a principle showcased in 1975 when the ensemble ran the length of the 26-mile...

Stock art of taiko drums.
Stock art of taiko drums.

Running and drumming are one.

This is the guiding principle that Ondekoza lives by, a principle that inspires their high-energy drum performances, known the world over-a principle showcased in 1975 when the ensemble ran the length of the 26-mile-plus Boston Marathon and immediately rushed onstage and performed a full concert.

Ondekoza, taiko drummers from Fuji village in Japan, will be coming to Dickinson next week, performing a concert at Dickinson State University and hosting workshops at schools and libraries around the area.

"There's a week of workshops where we'll go out to area schools, let the students see the musicians and the instruments," Jeremy Wohletz, one of DSU's professors of music, said of the March 8 event. "Just as a way to allow the community to learn about this."

This is a continuation of a series of musical acts that DSU has been and will be playing host to for coming semesters, thanks to a partnership with Arts Midwest, a nonprofit regional arts organization based out of Minneapolis. Last semester they showcased Sofi and the Baladis, a musical group from Israel. Now comes Ondekoza, who will showcase the electric art of the Japanese war drum.

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"It's totally a show, it's not just music, it's really a show they are putting on," Wohletz said. "In watching the videos and some of the stuff that Arts Midwest has put on their website ... they are going to put on a great show."

Blending athleticism and art, Ondekoza is famous for showcasing their physicality during their shows, their style described in a release issued by DSU as a blend of "physical fitness, running and drumming." Ondekoza practices a philosophy called sogakuron, where "running and drumming are one, a reflection of the drama and energy of life."

Members of Ondekoza live together and run daily. Taiko literally means "big drum" and was originally a type of war drum used to intimidate enemy armies. The instrument was later adopted into religious ceremonies.

"It's not often smaller communities like ours have the chance to host international ensembles like Ondekoza at all-let alone for a full week," Wohletz said in the release. "We're fortunate. This is a rare opportunity for us to enjoy an authentic slice of Japanese music and culture right here in Dickinson."

The cost to attend the March 8 performance is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and children, and free for DSU students with a valid ID. Tickets can be purchased at www.dickinsonstate.edu/worldfest or at the door on the night of the performance. The box office will open at 6 p.m. Seating will be general admission. The ensemble will be visiting a variety of schools over the course of the week, and capping off their visit with a workshop at Dickinson Public Library on Saturday.

Related Topics: DICKINSON STATE UNIVERSITY
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