05 March 2007

Kodo no-no

The New York Times had this to say about the Japanese drumming ensemble Kodo:

"Traditional rituals recast as theater, and contemporary
thoughts about ancient instruments both figure in Kodo's
performance, which includes ancient and modern compositions.
Yet with tense, angular postures, with stylized, frozen gestures
and, in one playful piece, with animal-like scampering and
slithering, Kodo reminds its audience that, above all, its
music is a matter of flesh and blood, wood and stretched skin.
Kodo can raise the roof, but the group can also show
extraordinary finesse."

So what happens when the group performs in Columbus? Several members of the audience actually snicker when two of the performers walk out in loincloth. Because, I suppose, butts are funny. I've never been so ashamed. Not even when Dame Kiri Te Kanawa scolded us from the stage last year.

I swear to god, I give up on this town.

The irony here is that it was the skin stretched taut over the giant drum that drew the attention of people with the maturity to match their years. The performance was fantastic. I'd never seen such a primal display of music so clearly become such a provocative piece of art. There were no -- OK, few -- of the shenanigans of "Stomp." Instead of theatrics, it was the sweat, skill and physical determination that elevated this show to something more than a display of ancient music. I think most of us appreciated that. ... And at least no cell phones rang.

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