Thanks for another successful Japanese Festival season!

2022 Japanese Festival Finale, photo by Kevin Dingman

Thank you for a wonderful festival season!

The festival season is always a thrill for our performing members. The 2022 festival season also marked the first year for our newest members, and they stepped up to the challenge to learn a ton of new parts! With our larger group, the theme for the festival became "big" with larger arrangements of several pieces to showcase the entire ensemble and create big visual experiences and sound for audience members.

Members perform expanded version of Drive. Photo by Kevin Dingman.
Above: Hollis, Ashley, Angela and Theresa perform an expanded arrangement of a favorite piece, Drive. We like to call this arrangement "Overdrive" for the huge sound that results.

The schedule can be daunting for both new members and our veterans. Practices are long and can be physically and mentally demanding with new parts to learn on top of many other preparations that go toward making a successful season. As new member Hollis put it, it was like "drinking from a firehose," but the experience is incredibly rewarding. 


Above: Katie rescues Ashley from our mischevious shishi. Photo by Kevin Dingman.

We also had an amazing group of fans who came out to cheer us on despite the rain. Lorraine and Ashley, who both joined in the spring, noted the excitement of taking part in the festival after previously being spectators. Lorraine notes, "Being on stage was such a joy - even through the rain and exhaustion, having awesome energetic crowds to feed off of brought on a whole 'nother level to performing."  For Ashley, "it was so much fun taiko-ing our hearts out at J-fest along with their support." We definitely get an energy boost from our fans, and we're happy to see so many people at each show!

Akira, who auditioned in June, notes another favorite aspect of festivals is the time spent with the other members: "I think I've learned that part of playing in a group together... is knowing each other better." We get to share a lot of meals - and jokes - at the festivals, and it's no wonder that we affectionately refer to fellow members as family.



The festival season may be winding down in Missouri, but our performances continue! In November we travel to Tennessee for the Memphis Japan Festival, and additional performances are in the works for the winter months. Check out our website for more upcoming shows.
 
Thank you for another amazing festival season!

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Help us repair our drums!

Artwork by Lorraine HuOur drums take a lot of abuse and several are in need of major repairs so we can continue to perform. Please consider making a donation to help us repair the drums! All donations are tax deductible. Thank you!

Spotlight on a Member

Meet Ashley Webelhuth

What was your first experience with taiko and why did you decide to try it yourself?
My first experience with taiko was at Missouri Botanical Garden's Japanese Festival in 2017. I was immediately drawn to the energy and powerful sound of the drums, and it wasn’t until June of 2021 that I decided to join the Community Group. The pandemic was just starting to calm down around that time, and I was excited to try something new with a few of my classmates in the Japanese Language School. Our teacher, Hitomi, is a performing member, and she let us know about the opportunity.
 
You’ve photographed several of our performances, but this year you performed with us! How does it feel to be in front of the camera instead of behind it?
Being in front of the camera is uncomfortable because there’s no telling what type of facial expressions will be captured, but it was so much fun performing with the group! After J-Fest ended, I wanted to do it all over again.

What was your favorite part about the recent Japanese Festival at Missouri Botanical Garden?
Performing with SLOT was my favorite part because it was a completely new experience. Despite the rain, it was neat to see the number of hardcore fans that still came to support us. There’s also something really special about being able to play alongside my Japanese language teacher and classmates as we continue to learn more about Japanese culture through taiko.
 
Do you have a favorite taiko song (SLOT or otherwise)? What do you like about it?
So far, Drive! Followed by Omiyage (8 chuu version). For Drive, it’s the energy that comes with the song. For Omiyage, it’s the powerful sound of all the drums together, plus the bachi twirls which look cool but are difficult to nail. A favorite outside of SLOT is Jack Bazaar composed by Kris Bergstrom. It’s so technical!
 
You’ve been known to commit the occasional prank…how did that come about? What’s your favorite?
Both of my parents are pranksters, so growing up it was a means of survival. One of my favorite pranks was giving interns a blank printout of our office floor plan and having them label where roughly 150 employees sat, in addition to noting conference room names, etc. as part of their “Intern Evaluation.” HR and office leads approved this, so the entire office was in on it. The interns had roughly 15 minutes to fill out the floor plan on a Friday, and it wasn’t until the following Monday that I revealed to them that the evaluation was fake. They were really sweating!! It probably sounds harsh, but it made them realize how important it is to make an effort to know who they're working with.
We are a non-profit group that performs the art of taiko around the St. Louis area and the world.
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St. Louis Osuwa Taiko · 10734 Trenton Ave. · St. Louis, MO 63132 · USA

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