Odaiko Sonora is Tucson's taiko, or Japanese ensemble drumming
group. Serving southern AZ since May 2002, Odaiko Sonora is dedicated to increasing
familiarity with and understanding of taiko in our community. We do this for
over 30,000 people each year through classes and master workshops, performances,
school residencies, teambuilding workshops and by producing concerts by internationally
acclaimed taiko artists.
SOUND, MIND, BODY & SPIRIT are
the principles behind our teaching
and playing. Our students and members strive to honor the traditions of taiko
as they have come to us through our teachers, to honor our audiences through
the artistic quality of our presentations.
View a complete history of Odaiko Sonora Gigs,
an archive of past entries on our News/Performances web
page, and the News Room, with links
to videos, articles, and past e-newsletters.
Odaiko Sonora consists of:
- Students in our various classes
- Community Group, formerly known as the "Tucson Taiko
Juku," this group is led by senior players with PEM instruction, and is
for those with a little to a lot of taiko experience who wish to continue learning
and playing together. The CG has the opportunity to perform 3 or 4 times a year
- Performing Ensemble (PEM), the professional performing
group with almost 50 gigs a year
- Performer Understudy Pool, for players who wish to learn
performance skills and participate in designated PEM performances
The organization has one fulltime staff person and many volunteers,
including a Board of Directors, administrative, artistic and teaching staff,
costume designers/fabricators, drum builders, gig coordinators, merchandise handlers,
numerous organizers and cooks and equipment haulers, and, of course, the students
and players. Student dues go towards studio expenses, maintaining the equipment,
and some travel and hospitality costs for performances and master classes.
Performing Ensemble Members
I fell in love with taiko in October 2000. My first sensei was Stan Morgan
of MoGan Daiko. I’m grateful to him for being the first person to put bachi
in my hands. I’ve since had the honor of training with Tiffany Tamaribuchi,
Esther Vandecar, PJ Hirabayashi, Kenny Endo, Eichi Saito, Yoko Fujimoto and Chieko
Kojima of KODO's Hanayui Ensemble. Before taiko, my percussion experience consisted
of playing in handbell choirs. Many of the skills transfer (ensemble percussion
is, after all, ensemble percussion) but many of them don't (a drum, after all,
is not a handbell.) There is no feeling like playing taiko and I’m humbled
and grateful to be able to practice, perform and teach this art form. I'm a board
member for the Japan-American Society of Tucson, and mother to three cats. (Ed.
note: Rome was selected as one of Tucson's 2007 Top 40 Under 40).
I started studying taiko with Stan Morgan in 2001. When he fell ill, Rome
and I founded Odaiko Sonora so we could keep playing and so Tucson would have
a taiko group. Since then, I've studied mainly with Tiffany Tamaribuchi (Sacramento
Taiko Dan), San Jose Taiko and Shidara. Before taiko, I was an arts administrator
and poet, have a BS in architecture from UVA and an MFA in creative writing from
U of A. I directed the Tucson Poetry Festival, worked at the UA Poetry Center,
co-founded Kore Press and InConcert! Tucson. As our group's lead drum builder,
I thank Stan Morgan, Tony Trapasso, Mark Miyoshi and June Schumann for sharing
their knowledge of building these fine instruments. (Ed. note: Karen was recipient
of a 2008 YWCA Woman on the Move award and the 2009 Pan Asian Community Alliance
Woman of the Year. In spring 2009, she received the prestigious Arizona Arts
I graduated in the spring of 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dance
Education from the University of Georgia and hit the ground running on a road
I was sure would lead to a lifetime of modern dance performance. In the fall
of 2005, Rome and Karen gave me my first taste of taiko within a dance/taiko
collaboration piece with OTO Dance. Since then, I have switched focus and am
vigorously pursuing taiko as my new performance path. I have been fortunate enough
to study under Tiffany Tamaribuchi and attend workshops lead by San Jose Taiko
and Chabo-san of Shidara.
Board of Directors
- Dr. Min Yanagihashi (President) is a retired university
professor. He earned his Ph.D. from University of Michigan, M.A. from University
of California at Berkeley, M.L.S. from University of Washington, and B.A. from
University of Hawaii. His teaching and research interest focused on East Asian
government, politics, and history. Currently, he is an i-commerce business developer;
co-founder of the Japan-America Society of Tucson; and actively participates
in Roadrunner Civitan, Toastmasters International, the Japanese Christian Community
of Tucson, and Board member of the University of Arizona Center for English as
a Second Language.
- Kathy Bender-Coin is honored to serve on the Odaiko Sonora
board. She is a registered nurse, working at University Medical Center in the
Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery for over 20 years. Kathy, with her husband and
two youngest children enjoy living in Sonoita, AZ. Kathy loves traveling as often
as possible. She devotes much time to volunteering at her children's Montessori
school, and is enthusiastic about encouraging children to discover new cultural
and learning experiences.
Brienne Dylewski, CFP® has been with Financial Architects
since 2003. She moved from Pennsylvania to Tucson in 1984 with her family, and
met her husband, Scott, while attending University High School. Together they
went on to attend the University of Arizona. Brienne majored in Business and
Public Administration, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. In 2006
she completed an extensive Financial Planning Certificate Program through Boston
University, leading to her CFP® credentials. In 2007 Brienne became a full
partner with Financial Architects, solidifying her long-term commitment to clients
and the firm.
Brienne and Scott are volunteers for the Humane Society of Southern AZ and they
recently took up cycling; participating in their first El Tour de Tucson in 2009.
Howard Kong is a senior analyst at CB Richard Ellis, providing
clients with financial and comparative leasing analysis. His other areas of focus
include public relations and business development, as well as internal business
planning and monitoring.
To-Reé-Née Wolf Keiser McArdle is an artist
whose work spans the range of 2D disciplines—from paintings and assemblages
to public art of grand scale—to performance and theater. Her tile mosaics
and murals are an familiar feature in our city. In 2003, she was awarded a YWCA
Woman on the Move award for her continuing work with communities. See her work
Rick Wamer & Lorie Heald, Theatrical
Other Odaiko Sonora VIPs
We gratefully acknowledge the following individuals:
Stan Morgan, founder and leader of MoGan Daiko, for the sharing
his deep love for taiko and his teaching. Mr. Morgan passed away in spring 2010.
Esther Vandecar of Fushicho Daiko in Phoenix, for helping
us get Odaiko Sonora started, for songs shared, invitations to gigs and workshops,
and for remaining a kindred spirit in our love and respect for the art form.
We also thank Fushicho Daiko members Tony Trapasso and Eileen
Mari Kaneta, sensei of the Suzuyuki-Kai School of Classical
Japanese Dance, for her guidance and instruction.
Our Wellness Coordinator Julie Baron, and Calligraphy Artist Shinsuke
Thanks also to Marnie Sharp for our beautiful
web design, to
Ditte Lokon for the Japan photos, and to Ofelia
Lichtenheld and Nancy
Hall for costumes.