News & Press
Norton Center Series Continues with YAMATO: THE DRUMMERS OF JAPAN in a Heart-Pounding, Rhythmic Spectacle of Music and Theatre
Nov 1, 2011
DANVILLE, KY— On Tuesday, November 1, Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts will present a fusion of high-energy drumming, music and theatre with YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan. Founded in 1993 in Nara, “the land of YAMATO” and considered the birthplace of Japanese culture, the group travels all over the world with Japanese traditional drums, putting the musicians’ very souls into the unusual instruments, stirring the hearts of people everywhere. Since its formation, YAMATO has played to more than a million people, giving over 1,000 performances all over the world.
“What really strikes me about YAMATO is how the musicians really connect with the audience,” said Norton Center executive director, Steve Hoffman. “The performers are as polished as any top professional Taiko drumming group, but what YAMATO adds is a sense of humor and audience participation reminiscent of STOMP! that makes the show fly by for kids and adults alike.”
YAMATO combines a sense of drama and strong percussion with the most physical form of music – Taiko drumming. For those not familiar with Taiko drumming, Taiko takes an array of different sized drums and other percussion instruments and melds them into a cohesive whole, akin to the drumlins 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.
The master drummers of YAMATO are young, modern, and brimming with infectious energy as they take the ancient art of Taiko drumming and bring it to the present. This high-energy group performs on the ancient Japanese Wadaiko drums with a cultural and spiritual tone that connects the performers with the audience. These artists are infused with the idea that the drumbeat, like the heartbeat, is the very pulse of life. Prepare yourself—YAMATO’s drumbeats will bond the beating of your heart with the rhythm of your spirit.
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 transcend 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.
The drummers of YAMATO have mastered the art of showcasing traditional Japanese Wadaiko drumming while making it accessible to audiences of all ages and musical tastes.
As an enhanced benefit to audience members, the Norton Center and Centre College’s Dining by Sodexo will partner on Tuesday, November 1 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 5:00 PM, 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, November 1, 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 will also 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.
YAMATO: The Drummers of Japan will be performing their World Tour “Gamushara” at the Norton Center for the Arts on Tuesday, November 1 at 7:30 PM. Tickets, ranging from $23-$45, are on sale now and can be purchased on the web at www.NortonCenter.com or by calling the box office at 1-877-HIT-SHOW.
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