Ondekoza kicks off their tour in Red Wing, Minnesota!

By Luke Rivard, Program Associate

While Minneapolis prepared a busy, action-packed Super Bowl weekend, Arts Midwest anticipated the arrival of Onekoza for our own week of excitement in Red Wing! On Thursday, February 1st, four of the five members of the Japanese taiko drumming ensemble safely arrived at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. One of the members, Masashi Matsui, was delayed two days, but arrived in plenty of time for their first week-long residency in Red Wing, Minnesota. We are thrilled to have the whole group with us as this Arts Midwest World Fest tour begins!

Takahiro and Naoto load in the Nagado drum.
Masashi and Naoto load in the Nagado drum.

After a snowy, icy weekend, Ondekoza began their residency at Twin Bluff Middle School and Sunnyside Elementary on Monday, February 5th. Both schools were captivated by the power and beauty of Ondekoza’s performance, and students were delighted to have the opportunity to play the drums at the end of each clinic. Yoshimitsu Matsuda, one of Japan’s most virtuosic traditional flute players, demonstrated and explained each flute that he plays while accompanying the drummers.

Ondekoza performs at Twin Bluff Middle School.
Ondekoza performs at Twin Bluff Middle School.

There were many wide eyes and air-drumming hands in the audience throughout the hour long sessions. Students asked questions such as, “How long did it take to learn how to drum?”, “What’s the furthest you’ve ever ran?” and “What’s the biggest drum you have?” It was clear that Ondekoza loves sharing their work with students and audiences of all ages. Both schools erupted into applause at the end of the sessions, and students returned to their classrooms with wonder and enthusiasm.

Ondekoza performs at Sunnyside Elementary for K4-3rd Graders.
Ondekoza performs at Sunnyside Elementary for K4-3rd Graders.

Catherine and Takahiro pose with a slice of pie at Hanisch Bakery & Coffee Shop in Red Wing, MN.
Masashi and Catherine Tsao Kuo pose with a slice of pie at Hanisch Bakery & Coffee Shop in Red Wing, MN.

At the end of the day on Monday, a welcome reception was held at the Sheldon Theatre, our partner organization in Red Wing. A wonderful group of community members, local partner organization representatives, and students attended. Throughout the reception everyone got the opportunity to talk with members of the ensemble. After a bit of socializing, each performer of Ondekoza formally introduced themselves. Following their introduction, Takahiro Yoshida and Yoshimitsu Matsuda performed a small improvised duet of taiko and flute as a small demonstration of what the ensemble does. Bonnie Schock, the theatre’s Executive Director, graciously thanked the ensemble and Arts Midwest for this unique opportunity, while inviting community members and local partner organizations to spread the news of Ondekoza’s presence in Red Wing.

With such a positive start to the tour, we at Arts Midwest are eager to witness how the rest of Ondekoza’s residency in Red Wing unfolds!

Ondekoza performs at the Sheldon Theatre this Saturday, February 10th at 7:30pm. You can purchase tickets here: Tickets for Ondekoza in Red Wing.