Nagata and Hong discuss their upcoming performance at Harbourfront and the challenge of collaborating across different musical styles.
by Kallee Lins
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.
Charles Hong, the Artistic Director of Jeng Yi, has been drumming and dancing since 1990. From 1992 to 1996, he apprenticed under Kim Duk Soo, master drummer and leader of the world-renowned group SamulNori. Charles Hong returned to Toronto in 1996 and soon after founded Jeng Yi. He has also studied with Dong-Won Kim, a specialist in the music of Dodang Kut, a shaman ritual practiced in the central region of the Korean peninsula. Besides his work with Jeng Yi, Charles Hong has also worked in dance, music, and theatre productions. He has performed at the Guelph Jazz Festival, Canada Dance Festival, and the McMaster University Concert Series. He received the 2008 Dora award for Outstanding Sound Design/Composition in the dance category for his musical work on Soojung Kwon's original choreography Choonengmu, a dance work performed at the 2008 CanAsian Dance Festival. He is also an instructor of Korean drumming at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto and at York University, Department of Music.
CHARPO: What can audiences expect to see at your show on June 13?
HONG: The Korean drumming style also follows that same narrative where it used to be played outdoors by large groups of semi-amateurs; they were farmers who played the role of musicians during certain festivals and life events. Then it became, to use a term that’s often used, concertized. Musicians enhanced the repertoire and enhanced the technique. It’s become a genre of its own in Korea. Now, I never want to copy what they do in Korea, so I put my own artistic sensibility into it.