Making its “grand” debut, the Yamato Japanese drum troupe, which is in the middle of a 30-city tour in the United States, has been going strong for 25 years with its traditional, dazzling, up-tempo and innovative drumming style combined with modern athleticism and visuals.
Its newest presentation, “The Challengers,” can be seen at 8 p.m. Feb. 24 at The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice St., in Galveston.
In the heavy audience participation presentation, “The Challengers” will feature Taiko drumming through pin-point precision and ferocious skill performed by 20 musician-athletes that include both men and women, ranging in age from 19 to 50, modern fashion design and more.
“Although this is a ‘new’ production of Yamato, there really is no difference when it comes to the presentation that we give our audiences,” said Masa Ogawa, the artistic director of Yamato. “In ‘The Challengers’ you can feel the flesh power of Yamato because we are expressing the sound of the heartbeat of the people. It’s really a sight to see.”
Since their beginnings in 1993, the electrifying Yamato Drummers of Japan have learned, lived, and perfected their art of performing together on beautiful Nara Prefecture in Japan, said to be the birthplace of Japanese culture.
Yamato’s live performances are full of intensity and exhibit great originality and innovation through this traditional Japanese musical instrument, with the belief that the drumbeat, like the heartbeat, is the very pulse of life, and the epitome of the Japanese spirit, Ogawa said.
“If you can compare this newest show with past shows, you can recognize that Yamato is still growing,” Ogawa said. “That’s the most important point for us as artists — to make sure the audience feels the power of the performance. Our hopes are that they (audience) can share the energy of ‘The Challengers,’ as well.”
The U.S. appearances are part of their 2017-18 world tour, an initiative which, in the past 10 years, has brought the troupe to 51 countries and regions, giving 2,500 performances for nearly half a million people.
The troupe travels with about 40 Taiko drums, ranging in size from 10 kilograms to 400 kilograms. And, according to Ogawa, the most difficult point while touring is to keep all involved in good health.
“The touring life is so hard,” Ogawa said. “The members of the troupe not only set up for the show by unloading and packing on each stop, but we also exercise each and every morning to stay in shape. Being involved in these aspects is also important for the mind.”
For tickets and information, visit www.thegrand.com or call 800-821-1894.
“If you’ve never seen the Taiko drum, you don’t want to miss this show,” Ogawa said. “I’d like to personally invite everyone to please come out and feel the vibration of Yamato. I promise, it’s something you don’t want to miss.”