Taikoz and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra: A Musical Milestone
Date: Sat 03 Mar 2018
It's a week since our final performance with the SSO at the Sydney Opera House. Many thanks to all of you who came to see us play and especially to experience all the new works on the program.
When discussions with the SSO began nearly two years ago, I was excited about a number of prospects - a new major work for taiko & orchestra (a daunting task for any composer, considering the enormous shadow that Maki Ishii casts with Mono-Prism), collaborating with my 'old band', the Sydney Symphony & bringing together my two musical worlds - taiko and orchestra, arranging a work for orchestra that features my great friend, colleague and artist Riley Lee ("Cascading Waterfall" from "Chi Udaka"), and working with another friend and inspiring artist, shinobue/taiko virtuoso Kaoru Watanabe. Although at the time I had no idea about who we would commission, or who would conduct - two vital ingredients! - I had no doubt that we would make something musically exciting, complex and meaningful. And so it has come to pass...
Thank you to SSO Director of Artistic Planning Raff Wilson for making it happen, my wonderful colleagues in the SSO for their outstanding musicianship and embrace of the whole artistic venture, Riley for his beautiful playing and deep artistry, conductor Gerard Salonga and his inspired direction, my Taikoz colleagues for coming on the journey with me, Kaoru and his wonderful (and wonderfully challenging) compostions, super playing and creative input, and of course composer Lachlan Skipworth for giving us such a beautiful new work in "Breath Of Thunder".
For me personally, it was a thrill to have the honour of playing my solo kanade-okedo composition "Waves" on the stage of the Opera House (& in front of the SSO, no less!) This project was something of a culmination of 40 years work - 20 years as Principal Percussion of the SSO and 20 years as AD of Taikoz - and likely the last time that I'll be working with these two wonderful organisations together. And I am extremely grateful.