Kenny Endo is a performer/composer and a leading spirit in contemporary taiko. Utilizing the traditional Japanese drum in innovative collaborations, his music blends taiko with rhythms influenced from around the world in original melodies and improvisation. Trained in western drums and percussion from early childhood, Endo began his studies of kumi daiko (ensemble drumming) in 1975 with Kinnara Taiko of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Taiko Dojo. In 1980, Endo embarked on a decade-long odyssey in Japan studying with the masters of hogaku hayashi (classical), matsuri bayashi (festival), and kumi daiko. He is the first non-Japanese national to be honored with a natori (stage name and master's degree) in hogaku hayashi, and has an M.A. in Music specializing in ethnomusicology from the University if Hawai'i. Endo's original compositions and performances have been well received by audiences throughout the world. As a composer, Endo has released three CDs: 'Eternal Energy' (1995), 'Hibiki' (1998), and 'Jugoya' (2000). Recently, Endo performed as a taiko soloist with the Honolulu Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, percussionist Kiyohiko Semba, the Hawaii Opera Theater, and with singer Bobby McFerrin. His ensemble recently performed on tour in Germany and Belgium, at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, at the Georgia Dome for Microsoft's Global Meeting, and opened for The Who concert in Honolulu. Endo maintains an active schedule performing, collaborating, composing, and teaching while also serving as Artistic Director of Taiko Center of the Pacific, a school of traditional Japanese drumming based in Honolulu. Working with artists in various genre, he has paved new directions in using the traditional taiko, bringing a refreshing and creative approach to music through his background in western, ethnic, and traditional Japanese drumming. In 2006, Endo headlined the Opening Ceremonies of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., was in residency at the Smithsonian Institute for an exhibit on the Japanese artist Hokusai, and toured England and the Czech Republic with Joji Hirota (taiko, percussion) and John Kaizan Neptune (shakuhachi).
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