Thursday, February 27, 2025, 7:30 PM

Street and Davis Performance Hall, Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre

This performance will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. 

*Run times listed here are based on information provided at this time and are subject to change. 

Category A $65 | Category B $45 | Category C $25
$10 students with ID and youth 18 and under
15%-25% subscription discounts available

"Superlatives don’t really exist to convey the primal power and bravura beauty of Kodo."

The Chicago Tribune

Exploring the limitless possibilities of the traditional Japanese taiko drum, Kodo enthralls audiences with its athleticism and energy. Known worldwide as the “grandfather group” of kodo drumming, the ensemble transcends the boundaries of traditional musical experiences, where ancient rhythms meet dynamic contemporary expression.

The performance typically begins with a single, powerful strike on the drum. Other drummers join in, creating a layered and immersive sonic landscape. The physicality of the performance is as captivating as the sound — Kodo’s drummers move with a combination of strength and grace, navigating intricate choreography. Alongside folk dances and songs from regional Japan, experience the soul-stirring rhythm of life firsthand. 

About Kodo

In Japanese, the word kodo holds a double meaning. It can be translated as “heartbeat,” the primal source of all rhythm. However, the group’s name is written with different characters, which mean “drum” and “child,” reflecting Kodo’s desire to play the drums with the simple heart of a child. For its 40th anniversary in 2021, the ensemble created two works based on its name: Tsuzumi takes its name and theme from the drum character, and Warabe from the child element. 

Tsuzumi was Kodo’s touring production in 2023 across North America, and Warabe is the continuing production. In Warabe, Kodo looks to its classic repertoire and aesthetics from the ensemble’s early days. This production blends simple forms of taiko expression that celebrate the unique sound, resonance, and physicality synonymous with Kodo — forever children of the drum at heart.

Since the group’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo has given over 6,500 performances on all five continents, spending about a third of the year overseas, a third touring in Japan, and a third rehearsing and preparing new material on Sado Island. Kodo strives to both preserve and reinterpret traditional Japanese performing arts. Beyond this, members on tours and research trips all over the globe have brought back to Sado a kaleidoscope of world music and experiences that now exert a strong influence on the group's performances and compositions. Collaborations with other artists and composers extend across the musical spectrum, and Kodo's lack of preconceptions about its music continues to produce startling new fusion and forms.

Kodo's Home of Sado Island

Since 1971 Sado Island has been Kodo's home and the platform from which the group reaches out to the world. With nature's warm embrace evident in each of her four seasons, Sado is an extraordinary place where traditional ways of life and the island's indigenous performing arts still thrive today. This island is the fountain of inspiration for Kodo and the guiding force behind the group's creative lifestyle. The goal is to find a harmonious balance between people and the natural world.

Each time Kodo ventures off the island, the ensemble encounters new people, customs, and traditional performing arts that are ingrained in the lifestyles of each locale. Both similarities and differences prompt Kodo members to pause and reflect upon the importance of the varied and rich cultures that color our world. These life lessons permeate each performer's skin and become an invisible source of their expression. It is through this process of living, learning, and creating that Kodo cultivates a unique aesthetic and sensitivity, reaching out toward a new world culture rooted in the rich possibilities of a peaceful coexistence between humanity and nature.

Kodo Cultural Foundation

Thanks to the support of many friends, Kodo Cultural Foundation was established in 1997 to increase Kodo's capacity for outreach projects on Sado Island. Its primary mission is to carry out non-profit activities focused on social education and the notion of giving back to the local community. The foundation is committed to the cultural and environmental preservation of Sado Island and oversees many ambitious projects. From the conservation of local habitats to the revitalisation of rare craft traditions and Noh theatres throughout Sado Island, the highly collaborative foundation supports many vital initiatives. Its activities include holding workshops, planning the annual music festival Earth Celebration, creating a research library, managing Kodo Apprentice Centre and Sado Island Taiko Centre, and carrying out research in the performing arts.

Kodo Apprentice Centre

In a converted schoolhouse in Kakinoura on Sado Island, the young people who will continue and expand on Kodo's traditions are trained not just in musical technique, but also in all matters of body and spirit. Beginning in April, apprentices live communally and train for two years. From this group, probationary members are selected in January of the second year. These chosen few spend one year as junior members, and if they are successful, they then become full Kodo members. Kodo seeks people of all backgrounds who are interested in becoming apprentices, as well as the next generation of Kodo players and staff. Apprentices live communally in the Kodo Apprentice Centre, where they learn taiko, dance, song, and other traditional arts.

This is Kodo's first performance at the Moss Arts Center.

Photos by Takashi Okamoto