Mar 30, 2006

Europe Tour 2006 Official Report

The European tour which began in late January has come to a close and all the players and staff have safely returned home to Japan. This will be the final weblog report for this tour.

Kodo's long held dream of going to Spain was finally fulfilled this time around, for we were able to wrap up the tour on the Iberian Peninsula with concerts in both Spain and Portugal. This also marks our first time performing in Portugal in cities other than Lisbon, Oporto and Figueira da Voz in the northern region.


March 18th
Porto, Portugal
Coliseu do Oporto

The venue was in a colosseum style theater located in the heart of Porto, Portugal's second largest city next to Lisbon. In 1996, Porto's historic town center was designated as an UNESCO World Heritage site. Walking along the stone paved roads, one feels transported to the Middle Ages. Since this 60 year old coliseum was also made entirely of stone, there were concerns that the reverberation of the drums would be too strong. However, to our relief, once the audience took their seats, their bodies absorbed much of the sound and acoustics mellowed considerably. The audience's enthusiasm for the performance however was not dampened in the least.


March 19th
Figueira da Foz, Portugal
Centro de Artes e Espectaculos Figueira da Foz

In contrast to Lisbon and Porto, Figueira da Foz is a summer resort town. Right In front of the hotel was the ocean and if it hadn't been cold, there is no doubt that every single member of Kodo would have been in the water. The city felt eerily quiet and abandoned, probably due to both the fact that was it the off season and also that it was a Sunday in a predominantly Catholic city. Compared to the concerts in Lisbon and Porto, there seemed to be a lot of families in the audience, giving a nice relaxed feel to the evening's concert. It is interesting how the audiences can vary so greatly depending on the city, even while staying in the same country.


Finally, we enter the final leg of the trip with concerts in three cities in Northern Spain. I found Northern Spain to be very different from what I knew of the country- the Flamenco and bullfighting for which Southern Spain is famous.


March 22
Leon, Spain
Auditorio Ciudad De Leon

Located in the Autonomous Community of Castile and Leon, this town is an important point in the Way of St. James, one of the three major Catholic Pilgrimages, along with those that lead to Jerusalem and Rome. Indeed, the cathedral and temples carried an overwhelming presence over the city center from which they rose. The piety of the local people could be seen in the steady stream of worshippers entering one after the other into these establishments, deep into the night.

Here in Leon, we found ourselves relying greatly on hand and body gestures to communicate because for the most part, English wasn't in common use. Nonetheless, the locals spoke to non-Spanish speakers openly and without trepidation.


March 24
San Sebastian, Spain
Centro Kursaal

San Sebastian is a Basque port town near the French border. Like we had many times during the course of this tour, we once again found ourselves in a port town with the concert hall facing the ocean. The town was so clean it almost felt like we were in France or Switzerland and the atmosphere was completely different from Leon. This town has benefitted from economic growth through heavy industry in the past and through drawing large crowds of vacationers and tourists to the many health resorts and beaches now. The Basque have their own unique culture, language and traditions. The Basque nationalist organization ETA had recently announced an indefinite cease fire so the theater personnel couldn't keep their eyes off the television news this day. They watched with palpable joy and relief. The audience reacted very emotionally to the concert, so much that we in turn were moved by the enthusiasm with which they applauded and shouted. Even after the performance, the Kodo staff were assailed with questions and comments from the audience- it's a good thing people speak English here! I found the people of San Sebastian to be extraordinarily passionate folks.

March 25th
Santander, Spain
Palacio Festivales Cantabria

With this concert, we finally come to the end of this tour. Again we faced the Cantabria Ocean in yet another resort town, this one called Santander. With strong winds and warm temperatures, children were already swimming in the ocean. The concert hall was near the ocean and built of rather unconventional design. The inside was built like a maze that I could never quite figure out! In general, people here were more reserved then in Basque. People were very friendly and helpful but when we asked directions, everybody seemed to give contradictory answers... and like in Leon, English was not really useful here. The concert ended well without incident and after packing up everything to ship home, we had simple toast. Good job, everybody!

Finally, I'd like to give my heartfelt thanks to: Matheus and Joris who shared with us many trials and tribulations, our many agents in each country, all the people who came to see our concerts, the Kodo players and staff, and all the people who followed the tour through the weblog.

20060330akimoto


Jun Akimoto
Kodo
European Tour Manager
March 30, 2006

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Mar 22, 2006

Europe Tour 2006 Official Report

March 8th and 9th

Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Rotterdamse Shouwburg

It has been twenty years since Kodo last performed in Rotterdam.

The Shouwburg Theater is known to host the most innovative and cutting-edge dance and theater companies. In fact, the day before the Kodo concert, the Netherlands Dance Theater had a performance here that was simply incredible. This company, by the way, has performed the composer Ishii Maki's piece Kaguya Hime in collaboration with Kodo in 1988.

Back to the subject of the Kodo performance, whether through applause, sighs or shouts, the audience gave direct and unaffected response to the performance even in the middle of pieces. Among the audience was the Dutch percussion group Circle Percussion who Kodo has been friends with since the 1980's.

On the 9th, Kodo appeared on the popular Dutch television show "Pauls Punt" with the popular Dutch rock band Bløf. You can read more about this in Tomohiro's March 9th weblog entry. By the way, here in the Netherlands, Bløf's record breaking number one hit single "Aanzoek Zonder Ringen" which Kodo makes a guest appearance on, has large display corners in all the major record stores in Rotterdam and has commercials constantly running on the television.


March 16th and the 17th
Lisbon, Portugal
Casino Estoril

This makes Kodo's fourth appearance here in Lisbon. Portugal this time of year is warm and sunny with temperatures in the mid 70s, with the cherry trees in bloom. It was so warm that the frosty Belgium seemed like a distant dream. Although Kodo has performed in wide variety of venues up until now, a casino has not been among them. Incidently, the concert this evening started at ten thirty in the evening! The audience had to adhere to the dress code of jackets and ties for the men and dresses for the women. People were dining on sushi in the lobby while standing amongst the rows of slot machines. Performing in front of a wine sipping audience, we were able to enjoy the luxurious mood of this somewhat strange evening.

20060322akimoto


Jun Akimoto
Kodo
European Tour Manager
March 22, 2006

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Mar 08, 2006

Europe Tour 2006 Official Report

For the week between February 27th through March 5th, we had concerts in four German cities- Munich, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Dusseldorf. The following is a report from Germany, a country obsessed with the upcoming FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournaments being held here in just a few months.

February 27th and 28th
Munich, Gasteig Philharmonie

Since Kodo has been performing regularly in Munich since 1987, the city has a very familiar, comfortable feel to it. The Gasteig is a cultural arts complex which houses large and small concert halls, a music library, and recording studio, is the home to the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and the cultural center of the city. Once again for two consecutive days, we were able to perform to a sold out audience of 2,400 people. Munich audiences are known to be very intelligent, informed and critical listeners. The Kodo players found themselves inspired to perform to the highest level by the intense concentration with which the audience followed the proceedings on stage.


March 2nd
Nuremberg, Meistersingerhalle

Like Munich, Nuremberg is part of Germany's southernmost state, Bavaria. This is only Kodo's second time here since 1989. Appreciation goes towards the many people who told us they have been waiting for Kodo to come for a long time, including some people who traveled four hours from the former East Germany just to see the concert. In the outskirts of this still medieval city, is the concert venue Meistersingerhalle. At one corner of the concert hall there still remains an expansive area that was used as a gathering place for huge Nazi rallies. An arena capable of holding over one hundred thousand people and a meeting hall that held over fifty thousand people were built here between the mid '20s through the mid '30s. Part of that meeting hall is now being used as a library with reference material of Nazi activities from those times. One can see the German people looking hard and unwaveringly at the burdens placed on them by their past.


March 4th
Hamburg, Congress Center Hamburg

We then travelled North to the second largest German city of Hamburg. This is Kodo's third appearance in Hamburg. Being Germany's largest international port city, Hamburg has developed into a city in drastic contrast to the more rural Southern states. There was a chaotic energy almost on the level of New York City here. And in the center of the chaos is the Congress Center Hamburg (CCH) a multi purpose complex which holds not just concerts, but International Industrial Conventions and Exhibitions.

The audience for the concert was diverse, from young children to the elderly, with representatives from different nationalities and occupations and their passionate applause continued long after the encore ended this evening.


March 5th
Dusseldorf, Tonhalle Dusseldorf

This was our first appearance in Dusseldorf in six years. We performed in the Tonhalle, a very modernistic concert hall which just opened last year, having been rebuilt from an old planetarium. Walking inside this perfectly shaped dome, one very easily loses their sense of direction. The concert hall itself is a sort of doubled layered building within a building. In order to go from the dressing rooms to the stage, one must pass through a narrow hallway above the lobby, so we had a lot of trouble taking the drums to and from the stage area. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right balance between artistic design and functionality in architecture. The acoustics of the hall were excellent however, and layout of the hall created a nice sense of intimacy between the audience and the performers. All in all, the performers were able to really concentrate and give it their all.

Dusseldorf

Jun Akimoto
Kodo
European Tour Manager
March 8th

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Feb 21, 2006

Europe Tour 2006 Official Report

Greetings from the road here in the United Kingdom. We begin this year's European Tour with three concerts in Antwerp, Belgium in the final few days of January. We will play in seven countries, Belgium, Ireland, England, Holland, Germany, Portugal and Spain over the course of two months. Through the 25th of February, we will be making our way through England before crossing over into Germany on the 26th.

For the current program, in addition to the heavy and powerful drums, we are featuring delicate string instruments, voice and flute. So far there has been a great response to Ryutaro Kaneko's artistic direction which brings out both the masculine and feminine elements of Kodo to great effect.

You can visit the following address to view pictures and read a BBC review of a Kodo concert in Birmingham.

BBC - Sound of the rising drum

Since Kodo has not been to Dublin, New Castle, or Brighton since 1980, performing there felt like coming home after a long journey. Among those stops, we also performed to a full audience in the brand new hall, The Sage Gatehead, and a wonderful space that just opened at the end of last year in New Castle.

Kodo performed in Northern Ireland's Belfast for the first time ever. It was indeed a debut concert to remember. Also, Kodo was invited to the official residence of the Japanese Ambassador where we were able to perform for dignitaries from various countries around the world. Also in Dublin, Kodo made a live appearance on the Late Late Show, Ireland's highest rated nationwide television program.

It seems that during this tour, everywhere we go fellow musicians are dropping by to say hello. In Dublin, both Donal Lunny and Kila member Ronan O Snodaigh came, the drummer Ray Cooper visited us in London, the Scottish taiko group Mugenkyo Taiko came by in Edinburgh while a large number of Stomp members came by in Brighton. Having these meetings and reunions is truly one of the greatest things about touring.


February 21st

Jun Akimoto
European Tour Manager
Kodo


The Sage Gateshead exterior

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Inside of the hall

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At the Japanese embassy in Dublin

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