20 FEB 2018

Taikoz bring drums, drama and dynamism to the SSO

Ahead of his shows with our Orchestra this week, Taikoz Artistic Director Ian Cleworth talks about performing with his 'old band', studying in Japan and that time he almost missed a gig in India because his instruments were held up in customs... 

In three words, how would you describe what the audience can expect when Taikoz and the SSO collide?

Drums, drama and dynamism!

You were previously the Principal Percussionist with the SSO – what will it be like to perform again with your former band?

I spent 20 happy years with this amazing group of musicians, including my wonderful colleagues and friends in the percussion section, and so it’s an absolute privilege to be performing alongside them again in this context – albeit without my tie and tails! Having this opportunity to play my taiko in combination with the orchestra and all the myriad colours it can produce will be a truly awesome experience for me (and I’m sure the audience, too).

What was it that initially drew you to taiko?

It was really a chance encounter when an opportunity to travel to Japan back in the 1980s, specifically to study taiko, presented itself through my uncle and aunty who were living in Tokyo at the time. At first, I was totally overawed by the sound and energy of the drums and the players, but my teacher at the time also concentrated on the history and philosophy surrounding the taiko, and this enabled me to gradually find a way into grappling with the full-body experience of playing the taiko.

Taikoz and the SSO

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Taikoz and the SSO

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I found the Japanese approach to playing and conceptualising very different to what I had experienced in my conservatorium percussion studies – which were no less challenging and beneficial to my development – and combined with the sheer visceral impact of the taiko, proved to have a profound effect on my life and career.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?

Well, I’ve just become a grandfather so spending more time with my granddaughter would be a fun and satisfying thing to do!

You’ve played with numerous ensembles in incredible venues. Is there one that stands out to you as a special memory?

In 2016, Taikoz toured India with the Lingalayam Dance Company in an original collaborative production called Chi Udaka. Despite our instruments and sets arriving a week before we did, bureaucratic complexities at the airport prevented them from arriving in Bangalore in time for our first performance. We were devastated! The next day, we were scheduled to perform at the famed Krishnamachari Auditorium in Chennai, and lo and behold our instruments were still being held by customs. Through the efforts of our top diplomats our gear made it to the venue by 4pm and we managed to unpack, tune up, set up, stage set, warm up and ‘top and tail’ in time for a 7pm start. Needless to say, the performance was electric!

Book now to watch Taikoz perform with the SSO at the Sydney Opera House on 22–24 February 2018.

Taikoz bring drums, drama and dynamism to the SSOTaikoz bring drums, drama and dynamism to the SSOTaikoz bring drums, drama and dynamism to the SSO