Tsukasa Taiko at JASC - Who we are
Tsukasa Taiko, a program of Asian Improv aRts Midwest, offers taiko
drum instruction, education, and performances. Its mission is to preserve,
develop, and pass on the traditional concepts of Japanese art as a cultural
legacy, and to utilize these concepts in expanding and evolving the taiko
As a community group dedicated to understanding and strengthening Japanese American, Asian American, and Japanese identity, it strives to respect tradition and develop artistic excellence and connoisseurship. Nevertheless, Tsukasa Taiko’s programs are open to all. Its student and performing groups are composed of a range of ages from toddlers to grandparents, as well as representing an array of ethnicities. Tsukasa Taiko offers year round group music classes, private lessons, and special workshops for traditional Japanese musical instruments, including taiko, shamisen (3-stringed lute), and shinobue (bamboo flute), to all ages and skill levels.
As an active performing group, Tsukasa presents over fifty shows a
year, both locally and internationally. Tsukasa Taiko offers classes,
workshops, lectures, and demonstrations designed to teach how to play
taiko, as well as to advance the understanding of how the cultural arts are
a reflection of a community’s heritage and legacy. It works closely with
schools, companies, and corporations, to provide special performances and
presentations on the history of taiko and Japanese music. Tsukasa Taiko’s
popular performing ensemble maintains an active local, national, and
international performance schedule, including such prestigious venues as
the Contemporary Museum of Art, the Steppenwolf Theater, the Chicago
Cultural Center, Millennium Park, the Chicago Jazz Festival, Chicago
Symphony Center, the Smithsonian, and the Malta International Theater
Tsukasa Taiko’s director, teachers, and staff are dedicated professionals, all recognized as world class, working artists. Tatsu Aoki, the director, is a world renowned, highly respected, performing musician, composer, and recording artist, working in traditionally based Japanese music as well as experimental and jazz idioms. Noriko Sugiyama has returned to Chicago from Japan, having been granted a performing visa to be a guest artist with Tsukasa Taiko. With its strong leadership and aesthetic vision, Tsukasa Taiko is positioned to further the advancement of Japanese art in Chicago, and to expand and develop as a cultural beacon for the future.
National presence, community roots
Tsukasa Taiko at JASC maintains an active, national performance schedule and has presented its works at major venues including Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park, as well as the Smithsonian, the Indiana State Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum and San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens. We collaborate regularly with our sister taiko ensemble, Gen Taiko of San Francisco.
In addition to presenting artistic programs of the highest caliber, Tsukasa Taiko at JASC is deeply committed to its roots in Chicago's Japanese American community and performing regularly at various festivals, special events and other programs in the Japanese American and Asian American communities of the Chicagoland area.
Dedicated to building community and being a leader in the taiko drumming culture of the Midwest, Tsukasa Taiko maintains a national profile by presenting powerful performances across the country throughout the year. Tsukasa Taiko performs at a variety of events, from corporate and government events to community celebrations to cultural programs on major stages throughout the Midwest and the nation.
On top of an active performance schedule, Tsukasa Taiko presents programs including lectures and demonstrations designed to advance the understanding of taiko and its role in Asian and Asian American culture. Tsukasa Taiko works closely with the public schools and community centers of the Chicago area, presenting demonstrations, classes and performances in addition to special workshops held throughout the year.