Founded in 1976, Denver Taiko is an ensemble of third, fourth and fifth generation Japanese Americans honoring our cultural heritage through the exhilarating performance art of taiko. Our current cast of fourteen musicians range from energetic and talented teens to accomplished veterans who have performed with Denver Taiko from the very beginning.
In keeping with the tradition of the music, Denver Taiko has become known for its own unique performance style and personality. We have become an important part of Colorado and the West’s cultural landscape, playing at concerts, festivals and diversity celebrations throughout the region. The group was honored in 2001 by Denver’s Mayor Wellington Webb when we received the Mayor’s annual awardfor Excellence in the Arts.
You will observe how seriously we take our commitment to making this music by our “ki”, the energy and emotion of our performance. But don’t be fooled – we’re having fun, and we hope you will too.
Taiko with Toni has been performing and teaching taiko for over 30 years! With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education, Toni has also taught western music in public schools and has been teaching private lessons on saxophone, clarinet, flute, and oboe since 1995.
Toni joined “Denver Taiko” in 1978, learning the basics of taiko from groups such as “KODO”, “Oedo Sukeroku”, and “Ondekoza” from Japan; and “San Jose Taiko”, “San Francisco Taiko Dojo”, and “Kinnara” from the US. As well as performing, she helped start and taught their Jr. Taiko group. Other Japanese music related studies during this time in Denver were koto, shamisen and minyo/dance. By 1988, wanting to do more with taiko, Toni moved to San Jose, CA and became part of the “San Jose Taiko” (SJT) professional staff. Performance tours with “SJT” took the group throughout the USA (including the Arsenio Hall Show and Carnegie Hall) and Japan. During the years with “SJT”, Toni has several recordings and compositions to her credit.
Returning to Denver in 1995, she started “Taiko with Toni” with Lance B. Acker (a professional jazz musician). Lance plays shinobue/takebue (bamboo flute) and taiko; Joyce Nakata-Kim (one of the founders of “Denver Taiko”) on taiko; and when it doesn’t conflict with high school, Darren Kim (Joyce’s son) also joins them on stage. His combination of taiko and yo-yo/spin top (Darren is the 2009 National Spin Top Champion) is a definite delight for audiences!
“Taiko with Toni” has performed and taught taiko workshops at many schools and festival presentations throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and California. Toni and Lance have taught workshops at the “North American Taiko Conference” at the past 3 gatherings (Los Angeles/2005 and 2009, Seattle/2007). They have also performed with “Taikoza” (taiko group under the leadership of Marco Lienhard in New York City) on the east coast and in England, Switzerland, and Russia.
Mirai Daiko is a professional Japanese Drum ensemble based out of Arvada, CO. The all-women group consists of second, third, and fourth generation Japanese Americans and members of the group include: Keiko, Meg, and Courtney Ozaki, Shannon Umetani, and June Kurobane.
Mirai Daiko’s members have been playing taiko since as early as age 10 and were taught by Gary Tsujimoto and Nancy Ozaki of One World Taiko — As members of One World Taiko, they performed across the country in venues such as Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida, at the International Taiko Festival in Berkeley, California, and were invited to perform at the North American Taiko Conference, Taiko Jam, in Seattle, Washington. In 2010, Keiko, Shannon, and Courtney were honored to travel to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates with One World Taiko to perform as resident artists during November and December at the Global Village on the Main Cultural Stage.
Meg, Keiko, Shannon, and Courtney founded Mirai Daiko in 2002. Over the past nine years, Mirai Daiko has performed at a wide-range of special events and festivals including the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, Denver’s Cherry Blossom Festival, Hearts for Heart’s Sake, the Boulder Asian Festival, Taiko Summit Colorado, the Festival of Japan in Laramie, WY, and many more. The group produced their first stage production, ‘Mirai Daiko Live,’ in 2010 which premiered on the Curious Theater stage in Denver, CO. They are also teachers at the Swallow Hill Music School where they enjoy sharing the art of taiko with their students!
Mirai Daiko combines powerful beats with exciting movements. As the name Mirai (which means ‘the future’ in Japanese) indicates, this young group strives to engage audiences with a new and unique taiko experience.