Personnel

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Personnel

Tsukasa Taiko at JASC is made up of the leading taiko artists in the Midwest. Our artists are nationally and internationally recognized performers and recording artists.

Tatsu Aoki - Artistic Director, Executive Director
Jeff Chan - Administrative Director

Joanne Kiyoko Tohei - Director of Outreach
Kazu Yamamoto - Director of IT and Marketing

Kiyomi Negi - Gintenkai Leader
Kioto Aoki - Gintenkai Captain/ Instructor

Noriko Sugiyama - International Residency Performer / Instructor



Tatsu Aoki

Tatsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community, as well as a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms, a filmmaker, and an educator. He was born in Tokyo in 1957 to Toyaki Moto, an artisan family proficient in Okiya, the tradition of working as booking and training agents for geisha in downtown Tokyo. Starting at the age of four, Aoki was part of his family performance crew and received the essence of traditional Tokyo geisha cultural training and studies, which combine history with creativity. In the late 1960s, upon Tokyo’s economic and social decline, which forced many traditional family businesses to close, and his grandmother’s passing, he shifted his training to American pop and experimental music. By the early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement as a member of Gintenkai, an experimental ensemble that combined traditional music and new Western forms. In the same period, he started his work in small-gauge and experimental films, influenced by his biological father, who was a movie producer at Shintoho Studio.

In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo to study experimental filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is adjunct Full Professor in the Film, Video and New Media Department and teaches film production and history. He also is a visiting professor at Northwestern University. He has produced more than thirty experimental films and is one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally during the last twenty-five years. Aoki is Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival, which observes its twentieth year in 2015. Named President of San Francisco?based Asian Improv Records (AIR) in 1999, he has managed or produced more than forty AIR albums, notably the Max Roach and Jon Jang collaboration The Beijing Trio, and several projects in the hip-hop and Asian Pacific American arts arenas, from film screenings to concert series.

Aoki was named one of 2001’s "Chicagoans of the year" by Chicago Tribune for his music and has performed with masters such as Roscoe Mitchell, Don Moye, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, and the late Chicago legend Fred Anderson. Aoki's suite ROOTED: Origins of Now, a four-movement suite for big band, premiered in 2001 at Ping Tom Memorial Park, and was performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival and at MCA Stage as part of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival. Additional notable releases include Basser Live (1999) and Basser Live II (2005), recorded live at MCA Stage; The MIYUMI Project (2000), Symphony of Two Cities (2002), and Posture of Reality with Wu Man (2003). The Asian American Institute awarded Aoki the Milestone Award in 2007 for his contribution to Chicago-area arts. In 2010, he received the Japan America Society of Chicago’s Cultural Achievement Award as well as a 3Arts Artist Award. He received the “Living in our Culture” award this year by the Japanese American Service Committee.


Tatsu Aoki - Artistic Director, Executive Director

Tatsu Aoki - Artistic Director, Executive Director



Kiyomi Negi-Tran

TSUKASA TAIKO
Gintenkai Performance Unit Leader
Kiyomi Negi is a second generation Japanese American born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Kiyomi grew up in a completely bicultural and bilingual environment where she spoke, read, and wrote Japanese from an early age. She considers both English and Japanese to be her native language, and is extremely conscious of her cultural identity. She is one of the very few 新二世 (Shin-Nisei) of her generation, living a unique Japanese American experience that identifies much closer with a Japanese Native. Kiyomi began learning taiko under the group's founder Hide Yoshihashi in 2002. After years of practicing taiko as a student and drumming at multiple community program events, Kiyomi has had the opportunity to perform on prestigious stages including the Millennium Park Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Cultural Center, Harris Theatre, Auditorium Theatre, University of Chicago International House, and the Chinese Cultural Center in San Francisco. Kiyomi is also one of the original members of Tsukasa Taiko, achieving a milestone as the first community drumming group to perform in professional arenas. As the current leader of the new Gintenkai Performance Unit, Kiyomi continues to explore her Shin-Nisei identity through the art of drumming and aspires to bring Tsukasa to a level of artistry that no other taiko ensemble has yet achieved.



Kioto Aoki

TSUKASA TAIKO
Gintenkai Coach / Instructor
Gintenkai Performance Unit Leader Kioto Aoki is a新二世 (Shin-Nisei) Japanese American born and raised in Chicago. Fluent in English and Japanese, she is one of the few remaining original members of Tsukasa and has a career of over 14 years. She has contributed to Tsukasa Taiko's legacy as the first community taiko group in Chicago to perform in professional venues, playing at the old Hot House, Chicago Cultural Center and Asian American Jazz Festival by the time she was 12. Currently Kioto is captain and coach of the Gintenkai Unit and Saturday classes, which features advanced members for larger performances such as the annual Taiko Legacy Concert at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. She frequently works with renowned Chicago jazz musicians like Mwata Bowden and Edward Wilkerson Jr., and went on her first international engagement to Poland in November of 2013. She is also pursuing shamisen as part of her education in traditional Japanese music. Kioto specializes in analogue photography and filmmaking as well, extending her commitment and involvement to the fine arts. She is attending The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and will graduate with a BFA. Her experimental, structural work in the visual arts shares the same aesthetic value with Tsukasa Taiko: One of preserving the artistic integrity of true art in the form of traditional image making and traditional Japanese music.



Noriko Sugiyama,

International Resident Performer/Instructor
Noriko Sugiyama benchmarks serves as a benchmark for Chicago’s Taiko culture as the first official guest artist coming from Japan under an immigration visa. She is a performing member and instructor as well as core managing staff for the Tsukasa Taiko educational programs. Noriko Sugiyama trained with a community Taiko group in Japan for fifteen years before arriving in Chicago to become a guest staff member for Tsukasa Taiko. A native of Japan, Ms. Sugiyama uses her Taiko experience and teaching skills especially in the Japanese language to spread the art to people in the Chicagoland area. In addition to performing regularly, she teaches Taiko classes, workshops and private sessions throughout the year.






Noriko Sugiyama - International Residency Performer / Instructor

Noriko Sugiyama - International Residency Performer / Instructor



TOYOAKI SHAMISEN

TOYOAKI SHAMISEN
TOYOAKI SHAMISEN

TOYOAKI SHAMISEN
a division of Tsukasa Taiko at JASC

Discover the Japanese traditional lute, SHAMISEN !
Legendary "Ozashiki" shamisen music from Toyoaki family.
Please visit: www.toyoaki.org

TOYOAKI SHAMISEN




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