Congratulations! Taikoz is thrilled to announce three new players to its membership: Joe Small, Sophie Unsen & Claudia Wherry as Taikoz Young Artist.
USA-born Joe currently lives and works as a professional taiko player in Los Angeles. Having also spent several years in Japan studying and performing at a professional level, Joe has a wealth of experience. His curiosity and passion for the art led him to spend summers studying under taiko legend Kenny Endo at Taiko Center of the Pacific. In 2007 Joe moved to Sado Island and became an apprentice for the internationally renowned Kodo. Since 2012 Joe has been a disciple of pioneering solo artist Eitetsu Hayashi and has toured internationally as the sole non-Japanese disciple of his professional ensemble, Fu-Un no Kai. Since returning to the USA in 2014, Joe concluded an MFA degree in Dance at UCLA's World Arts and Cultures/Dance Department and subsequently created a full-length work called Spall Fragments. Joe is a wonderful musician and dynamic performer, and Taikoz is thrilled to have him on board and making the big move to Oz!
Sophie became a Taikoz Associate Player in 2014 after successfully completing Taikoz’s Individual Development Program in 2013. She has studied shinobue (bamboo flute) and taiko with the great virtuoso Kaoru Watanabe in New York City, and in 2015 travelled to Japan to undertake intensive study with Iwasaki Onikenbai Hozonkai, Akio Tsumura & Sons, Kyosuke Suzuki and Mochizuki Saburo. Sophie also performed at the Kitakami Michinoku Geinou Matsuri in Kitakami City. A woman of many talents, Sophie has completed a Bachelor of Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on saxophone and has performed extensively overseas and nationally with various ensembles.
Claudia is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Music at the University of New South Wales, and is (as far as we know) the first person in Australia to study wadaiko at university. Taikoz member Kevin Man is her principal teacher and established the curriculum for UNSW. Over the past couple of years, Claudia has taken her place as part of Taikoz and Musica Viva's Schools Concert touring ensemble and has also taken part in numerous Taikoz performances on the main-stage. Claudia began learning taiko with Taikoz in 2009 at the age of 14 and we are very proud of her achievements.
Here are some great action shots of them all. Joe, Sophie & Claudia...