I had the absolute pleasure very recently of spending an evening joining others in watching a performance by Peter Hewitt of CSS Taiko and his fellow Taiko drummers on a visit to the Camphill Village Trust at Newnham on Severn.
Having attended one of the Saturday morning workshops which Peter holds at the Colwell Arts Centre in Derby Road, Gloucester I did have an inkling of what to expect. However, I had not been prepared for the sheer exuberance and energy which the performers put into their gig, or the relaxed and easy skill with which Peter engaged his audience and drew them into the performance, not just in between pieces but while each piece was played as well.
The concert was sectioned into two parts. During the first half, Peter and his fellow performers played a set of around 4 or 5 different pieces, with evocative titles such as Stepping Stones and The Edge of Magic. Each piece was introduced with some background to its origin and comments by the audience were welcomed, if not actively encouraged.
Following an interval of around ten minutes it was the turn of the audience to experience drumming at first hand when they were invited up on stage to try drumming for themselves. This opportunity was welcomed with much enthusiasm. So many people wanted to take a turn that it was necessary to organise them into two groups.
Peter took the lead in introducing the eager participants to the basics of Taiko, breaking down the different elements of a simple piece and then encouraging them to put the elements together before telling them they had just learned a piece that had been played during the first half of the concert.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to try their hand at something new and I’m very sure took away positive memories of the evening. Of course, the great success of the evening other than bringing this wonderful performance art to a wider audience was the wish of some of the members of the audience to become involved in the workshops which CSS Taiko1 run.
1 CSS Taiko is a non-profit making charitable organisation which works to integrate special needs children and adults within the local community, bringing people from all backgrounds together in a common enjoyment of Taiko. Peter Hewitt, together with his wife Angie, daughter Vashti and son in law Nev devote much of their spare time to bringing Taiko to as wide an audience as possible. CSS Taiko operate an open door policy at their workshops which are held on Saturday mornings at the Colwell Arts Centre, Derby Road, Gloucester. See their website for more information: http://ccstaiko.co.uk/ or drop by between 9.30am and 12.30pm to come and see what they do.