In 1979, Soh Daiko was established as the first taiko drumming group on the East Coast under the guidance of the New York Buddhist Church. Among our beliefs, objectives, and purposes are:
- An appreciation of Japanese and Japanese American heritage.
- A belief in the oneness of the universe.
- A desire to promote and propagate an understanding and love for taiko music.
- The development of our taiko skills.
- The development of Japanese-American taiko music.
- A desire to learn about the history, tradition and values of taiko.
- The development of a spirit of togetherness, oneness and fellowship within our group.
The group began as a youth activity by members of the New York Buddhist Church after the Young Buddhist Association saw Chicago’s taiko group at an Eastern Young Buddhist League convention. Organized by membership chairman Mamoru “Mo” Funai and adult advisors – Jim Moran, Merle and Alan Okada – they started a taiko group with a grant from the Church. With this small grant, they learned to make barrel drums with help from Chicago and Kinnara taiko groups and David Matsushita - drums that are still used by the group in performance today.
Of the 81 members who make up Soh Daiko’s history, the current performing troupe numbers about 9, all with diverse backgrounds and professions. The group has steadily increased its varied repertoire to include traditional compositions from Shinto music tradition, adapting existing taiko compositions, and original arrangements and compositions by its own members. Much more than mere percussion, Soh Daiko’s presentation also features the visual element of movement and choreography, requiring physical strength, endurance, and energy that makes taiko such an exciting performance experience.
To learn more about the group today and its history, be sure to visit sohdaiko.org.