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History and Achievements of Tsukasa Taiko 2
Yoshihashi started to collaborate with Asian Improv aRts Midwest in 2001 for more strategic operation for a group geared towards arts and culture. The shift was a significant beginning for evolving of Tsukasa Taiko’s legacy. Tatsu Aoki, founder and director of AIRMW became artistic director, as it was important that a working artist and musician with direct lineage to the classical Japanese arts would guide the group towards a new goal. Aoki was born into a traditional okiya household in Japan. He grew up playing taiko and shamisen (three-stringed Japanese lute) since age 4 as part of his cultural training and was part of a theatrical performing crew during his adolescence. Influenced by this unique background Aoki began nurturing the group with the distinct objective of maintaining the traditional aesthetic of the Japanese theatrical Arts. His creative direction and leadership was vital for the development of Tsukasa’s current professional and specific stage presence. Aoki’s guidance was also essential because Tsukasa’s affiliation with AIRMW meant it would now function as part of a non-profit arts organization. This status allowed more national and international connection with arts communities.
Under this new structure, Yoshihashi was introduced into the scene as one of the first taiko players to be associated with professional music scenes . Yoshihashi performed at major venues, events and artistic projects representing Tsukasa Taiko, joined by Aoki’s two eldest children who were 4 & 7 at the time. Stages and events included the old HotHouse, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Jazz Festival, Chicago Blues Festival and Asian American Jazz Festival. These years reveal Tsukasa Taiko’s early involvement in professional settings. Tsukasa was also the frontman to bring children and youth to the large stage. The first generation of Tsukasa Taiko’s regular performers consisted of students from around age 4 to 16, who were all performing with Yoshihashi at these venues and events.
Asian American Institute Milestone Awards Benefit
US-JAPAN 150 FESTIVAL (2003)
FIREFLIES IN FLIGHT
A Celebration of Summer through Japanese Music and Dance
Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival 2005
10th Anniversary Performance
Chicago Taiko Legacy 2005
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA)