Newman Center Performers Connect With DU Community
Taiko drummers conduct workshop with Denver high school students
Students from Denver’s South High School were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when Taiko drummers from the Japanese group Kodo not only performed for hundreds of students, but also spent an hour teaching nearly two dozen students from the school’s drumline.
“This is a huge opportunity for the students. They were able to do the exact same thing that these world-renowned drummers are doing, standing side by side, performing with them,” said Kendra Whitlock-Ingram, executive director of the Newman Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Denver.
The Newman Center is the reason the school workshop and performance were possible. As part of the Newman Center Presents performing arts series, Kodo performed for two nights at DU in February. The group agreed to visit the high school auditorium between shows and work with students.
“Taiko drumming and percussion have very different styles and rhythms,” said Yosuke Kusa through a translator. “I was nervous at first because of the differences, but the students picked it up very quickly. I felt the students here enjoyed the taiko more than Japanese students do.”
For many students on the South High School drumline, it was the first time they’d ever been exposed to taiko drumming.
“I always love to be able to see other people come in and show us what they are really passionate about, just like we are really passionate about western culture drumline music,” said Vaughn Morrison, a South High drumline student. “The fact that they are so passionate about this and they are coming to a school to share it with us is really admirable.”
The Newman Center attracts internationally celebrated artists each year. The goal for the future is to have performers engage more with students in the Denver metro area and the DU community.
“A workshop with Kodo is exactly what the Newman Center should be doing to contribute to DU IMPACT 2025,” Ingram says. “We need to be more a part of our community, and South High School is a great partner located right up the street. This is exactly the kind of programming we are going to continue to do, and this workshop is a perfect start for us to kick this off.”