Japanese Music Featured During Tonight’s Band Concert

Students in grades 9-12 that are part of Armstrong Taiko, a Japanese form of percussion music, practiced yesterday for tonight’s concert. Participants include: (front) Isabella Nanney, Madison McGaughey, Gavin Hohn, (back) Liz Gilbertsen, Blain Johnson, (furthest back) Aleena Hohn. The group will present a special number during tonight’s Armstrong Junior High Band concert in the high school auditorium beginning at 7PM.

The award-winning Armstrong Junior High Band will perform a spring concert tonight at 7PM in the high school auditorium.

Armstrong Junior High Band received the highest possible rating at Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Adjudication on May 3rd.

This evening will feature an eclectic selection of pieces. The Junior High Band, consisting of seventh and eighth graders, will perform five pieces.

In addition, members of the Junior High Band will perform in chamber ensembles. Chamber pieces will include music for pairs of flutes, saxophones, and marimbas, as well as pieces for mixed ensembles, percussion ensembles and solo piano.

Musicians of Armstrong Taiko – a Japanese-style of percussion music, performing at tonight’s Armstrong Junior High Band Concert includes: (left to right) (Front) Isabella Nanney, Madison McGaughey (Back) Gavin Hohn, Aleena Hohn, Liz Gilbertsen, and Baine Johnson

An all-new Armstrong Taiko, an ensemble for grades 9-12, will also give it’s debut performance.
Rob Reams, the Junior High Band director at Armstrong Jr./Sr. High School, with the help of an ASD Foundation Grant, started Armstrong Taiko this spring. In addition to Armstrong Taiko, Rob Reams currently teaches Leechburg Taiko, performs with Pittsburgh Taiko and occasionally teaches taiko workshops at Slippery Rock University.

Reams said that Taiko, although it has existed in Japan for centuries, has only existed in its current form for fewer than 70 years. In 1951, Diahachi Oguchi, a jazz drummer, developed the concept of playing Japanese drums (taiko) in an ensemble setting.

Previously taiko were used for religious ceremonies and festivals. The concept of kumi daiko (playing drums together) spread to the United States in the 1960s when Seiichi Tanaka opened San Francisco Taiko Dojo. In the greater Pittsburgh area there are three taiko groups: Armstrong Taiko, Pittsburgh Taiko and Leechburg Taiko.

In addition, taiko is part of Slippery Rock University’s percussion curriculum.

The public is invited to attend tonight’s performance. There is no admission charge.