Exploring the limitless possibilities of the traditional Japanese drum, the taiko, Kodo is forging new directions for a vibrant, living art form. In Japanese, the word kodo conveys two meanings: Firstly, “heartbeat,” the primal source of all rhythm. The sound of the great taiko is said to resemble a mother’s heartbeat as felt in the womb, and it is no myth that babies are often lulled asleep by its thunderous vibrations. Secondly, read in a different way, the word can mean “children of the drum,” a reflection of Kodo’s desire to play the drums simply, with the heart of a child.
Since the group’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo has given over 6,000 performances in 50 countries worldwide under the banner “One Earth Tour.” Kodo strives to both preserve and re-interpret traditional Japanese performing arts. Beyond this, members on tours and research trips all over the globe have brought back to Sado Island a kaleidoscope of world music and experiences which now exerts a strong influence on the group’s performances and compositions. Collaborations with other artists and composers extend right across the musical spectrum and Kodo’s lack of preconceptions about its music continues to produce startling new fusion and forms.
Tamasaburo Bando is a leading Kabuki actor, and the most popular and celebrated onnagata (actor specializing in female roles) currently on stage. He has demonstrated his profound aesthetic across numerous platforms, receiving the highest acclaim for his many artistic endeavours. Bando accepted the invitation to become Kodo’s artistic director from 2012 and through 2016.
In September 2012, he was recognized as an Important Intangible Cultural Property Holder (“Living National Treasure”); and in 2013, he was decorated as Commander, the highest honour of France's Order of the Arts and Letters.