St. Louis Osuwa Taiko performs and teaches taiko, the art of Japanese ensemble drumming, at international festivals, concert halls, businesses, schools, universities, conventions, parades and fundraisers. The group performs primarily in Missouri and the Midwest. In doing so, St. Louis Osuwa Taiko helps preserve and contribute to the performance art while bringing enjoyment to the community and fostering an understanding between Japanese and American cultures. The father of ensemble taiko, Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi, founded St. Louis Osuwa Taiko in 1986, several decades after forming his original group, Osuwa Daiko, at the Suwa Taisha shrine in St. Louis' sister city, Suwa, Japan.
The soundtrack is Tsurugi No Mai, or "dance of the swords," a St. Louis Osuwa Taiko original. Videography by Brittany Larimore and James Westbrook, art direction assistance by Julie Wiese, editing assistance by Joel Balestra.
St. Louis Osuwa Taiko performing Tobihi at the Celebrate the World Festival in Maryland Heights, MO on February 24, 2013.
Tobihi means "leaping fire." It was composed by Joe Kimura and Hiroshi Tanaka as a fast, fiery wrapper around powerful solos for two players on the oodaiko, or large taiko. Note how the fire of this piece leaps from one side of the drum to the other.
St. Louis Osuwa Taiko performing Kaifuu at the Celebrate the World Festival in Maryland Heights, MO on February 24, 2013.
Kaifuu was written by Andrew Thalheimer. Kaifuu means "ocean wind." As the piece progresses, Kaifuu itself represents ocean waves in various states of calm and excitement, stirred by the wind. This is conveyed by the strong but steady rhythm and wave-like motions.
St. Louis Osuwa Taiko performing Tenchi at the Celebrate the World Festival in Maryland Heights, MO on February 24, 2013.
Tenchi, which means "heaven and earth," was composed by Joe Kimura, who was responsible for revitalizing St. Louis Osuwa Taiko in 1996 and leading it from 1996 to 2000. Tenchi, originally inspired by the fast rhythms in San Jose Taiko's piece, "Free Spirit," features drummers playing high pitched shimedaiko and low pitched chuudaiko, thus inspiring the name. This piece features fast hands, precise motions and improvisational solos.
A documentary about our group and the creation of one of our original songs, Oni-Daiko, or "demon drumming."
"Hiryu Sandan Gaeshi" written by Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi is one of the most well-known and commonly practiced and performed taiko pieces among every level of groups, particularly in North America. Not only is it a piece which is semi-open-source, but it is also the theme piece of the Japan Taiko Foundation and possibly the most well-known taiko piece around the world.
On June 27th, the day of Oguchi-sensei's passing, we performed this piece in celebration of his life and his commitment to spreading taiko around the world as part of the Hiryu Project.