Nagata Shachu

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Nagata Shachu



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"Nagata Shachu (formerly Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble), based in Toronto, Canada, has enthralled audiences with its mesmerizing and heart-pounding performances of the Japanese drum (taiko) since its formation in 1998. The ensemble has toured widely throughout Canada, the US and Italy performing in theatres, concert halls, and major music festivals.

While rooted in the folk drumming traditions of Japan, the group's principal aim is to rejuvenate this ancient art form by producing innovative and exciting music that seeks to create a new voice for the taiko. Taking its name from founder Kiyoshi Nagata, and shachu (an old term for a performing troupe), Nagata Shachu has become renowned for its exacting, straightforward yet physically demanding performances as well as for its diverse repertoire. Their playing is the combination of unbounded spirit with the highest levels of musicianship and discipline. The result is an unforgettable experience that is both powerful in expression and heartfelt in its sincerity.

Nagata Shachu has the unique distinction of having sponsorship from four major Japanese drum manufacturers. Since 1999, the ensemble has rehearsed in its own fully equipped and dedicated taiko studio.

In addition to having recorded five CDs of original music, Nagata Shachu produces its own annual concert where it premieres new works and often collaborates with guest artists.

Combining thunderous, primal drumbeats with subtle, intricate rhythms, the ensemble is able to produce a wide spectrum of sound. Featuring a vast array of Japanese taiko (including the massive O-Daiko), gongs, bells, wooden clappers, shakers and bamboo flutes, Nagata Shachu will take you on a musical journey beyond all borders."[1]


Kiyoshi Nagata[edit]

  • taiko,shinobue, and shakuhachi

Kiyoshi Nagata, the ensemble's artistic director, is Canada's preeminent taiko soloist who has been performing in a career that spans three decades. His principal studies were with Daihachi Oguchi (as artistic director and performer of the Toronto-based, Suwa Daiko from 1982 to 1992) and with Kodo (as an apprentice from 1993 to 1994). With the assistance of a Chalmers Performing Arts Training Grant in 1999, Kiyoshi studied classical percussion with Paul Houle at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Since 1998 Kiyoshi has taught a credit course in taiko at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. In September 2003, he began teaching a public course at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. For eight years, he instructed two community groups, Isshin Daiko in Toronto and Do-Kon Daiko in Burlington, which he helped establish in 1995. Kiyoshi is also regularly invited by universities and taiko groups to conduct workshops and present lectures.

In 1994, Kiyoshi founded the cross-cultural percussion ensemble, Humdrum, whose debut Toronto performance was ranked fourth in Now Magazine's "Top Ten Concerts of 1995". He has composed and performed taiko music for dance, theatre, film and radio and continues to collaborate with artists from all genres of music including traditional Japanese instrumentalists.[2]

Scott Kusano[edit]

  • taiko, shinobue, shakuhachi

"Scott has played taiko on and off since childhood first with the Toronto Suwa Daiko and later in 1995, as one of the original members of Isshin Daiko, a group that was formed by the Toronto Buddhist Church and Kiyoshi Nagata. It was through this encounter that Scott became a founding member of Nagata Shachu beginning a taiko career spanning over a decade. In 2003, while living in Fukuoka, Japan, Scott was instructed in the making and performing of the shakuhachi by the late Nomiyama Higao of Kasuga-shi. Though Scott's training was cut short due to Mr. Nomiyama's lung cancer, he continues to strive for the warmth and strength of tone that were the legacy of Mr. Nomiyama's style." [3]

Aki Takahashi[edit]

  • taiko, vocals, and shamisen

"Aki was born in a small fishing village on Shodoshima, a small island in the Inland Sea of Japan. As a young girl, she had weekly piano lessons and developed a secret passion to become a musician thanks to her grandmother who was always singing folksongs.

Aki began to study the three-stringed Tsugaru Shamisen and folk singing in Kyoto and was able to make the acquaintance of other musicians like her who were trying to keep this traditional music alive. Since moving to Canada in 2000, she has continued to share her music with audiences in a wide variety of venues ranging from street performing to local festivals such as the Canadian Tulip Festival and the Ottawa Folk Festival.

Aki is also the founder of the Japanese Folk Music Collective Ten Ten"[4]

Akemi Akachi[edit]

  • taiko

"Akemi Akachi is a Japanese descendant born and raised in Mexico. She began studying piano at the age of four. She completed her Bachelor degree in Composition at Las Rosas Conservatory in Mexico in 2004. Akemi has been involved in the creation of multidisciplinary projects with choreographers and dancers. She has taught music theory, ear training and sight singing to children and university music students. Her pieces have been performed in different venues both in Mexico and Canada. She moved to Toronto to earn her Master’s degree in Composition at the University of Toronto, graduating in 2008. While studying there she took the Taiko course taught by Kiyoshi Nagata and found a deep passion for this art form. "[5]

Tony Nguyen[edit]

  • taiko

"Tony Nguyen was introduced to the clarinet at the age of eleven and quickly developed a passion for music. He continued his studies throughout high school where he played clarinet, viola, and tenor sax in various ensembles and became extremely active within the musical community. He decided to pursue his musical studies at the University of Toronto in Music Education, where he enrolled in the taiko drumming course taught by Kiyoshi Nagata. Instantly, he became interested in the art form and kept taking taiko courses at the Nagata Shachu studio. Tony is now studying at the University of Toronto in hopes to become a music educator, while continuing to develop his taiko playing."[6]

Heidi Chan[edit]

  • taiko and shinobue

"Heidi Chan is a versatile musician who graduated from York Univerisity's Music program. She began playing taiko with Toronto's Isshin Daiko in 2000. In 2002, she became a member of Nagata Shachu. Since moving to Hong Kong in 2007, she has worked as a film sound editor, foley artist, music educator, and has continued to compose and perform music with individuals and groups of varying genres, as well as with dance and theatre productions."[7]