TaikOz - Crimson Sky

Bev Kennedy

CITY RECITAL HALL: The world premiere of a stunning new work, inspired by a Japanese haiku and written by TaikOz Artistic Director Ian Cleworth.
TaikOz - Crimson Sky
Thunderous, visceral, ritualistic, dynamic, vibrant, reverent and downright sexy are just some of the words that spring to mind after experiencing the sensory feast that is TaikOz.

Formed in 1997, TaikOz – who fuse traditional Japanese influences with contemporary compositions – have consistently drawn upon various musical influences to enhance the group’s cultural and musical foundations.

The Crimson Sky stage, set with an eclectic array of instruments, was reminiscent of a Japanese temple or shrine, with a huge taiko drum – or odaiko, literally meaning ‘largest drum’ – positioned in centre back stage.

The first piece, the world premiere of ‘Exploration’ by Anton Lock, started with four members of the group at the front of the stage, their drums worn with a sling, thus enabling some beautiful choreography, as fluid and seamless as the hypnotic rhythms being created. Graham Hilgendorf then joined on a basic, traditional Western drum kit to add a solid groove to the music.

The second piece, ‘Solace’ by Tom Royce-Hampton, was a quieter, more contemplative number and introduced Satsuki Odamura on Koto and Kevin Man on Shakuhachi.

The third number, ‘Ota-I-Ko’, by Ian Cleworth, brought more musicians onto the stage and integrated all the previous elements.

Starting with an ostinato on tuned percussion, the motif set up a hypnotizing pattern, over which Ms Odamura rhapsodized on her koto, showing her virtuosity on this most eclectic of instruments.

The last piece for the evening was another premiere, ‘Toward the Crimson Sky’ by TaikOz Artistic Director Ian Cleworth, once again featuring Ms Odamura on the Bass Koto. Broken up into three sections, after the three lines of the Haiku poem upon which it is based, it once again showcased all the elements that make this group so dynamic.

This was a stunning concert performed by a dedicated group. Every last detail was considered and meaningful. The lighting was simple yet evocative and the sound glorious in the delightful venue that is the Angel Place City Recital Hall. All in all a celebration of joy through discipline, an ethos the Japanese would be proud of – and Australians too !

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

TaikOz - Crimson Sky
Written by Ian Cleworth
Based on a haiku by Miura Yuzuru
Featuring Satsuki Odamura, koto
City Recital Hall Angel Place
March 30

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Bev Kennedy is generally regarded as one of Australia’s leading Musical Directors and accompanists, having worked on over 20 professional productions, including Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia!, The Producers, We Will Rock You, The Lion King, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Chicago, and the concert version of Sunset Boulevard with Judi Conelli. Most recently Bev has been working on Wicked and Avenue Q. She was also Associate Musical Director on Jersey Boys, and was nominated for a Green Room Award for her work as Musical Director on Gutenberg the Musical. Bev has also worked for several Mardi Gras ‘Hats Off’ concerts, including the 2008 Hats Off Meets the Stars Come Out 30th year Anniversary concert, and for the last four years as Musical Director on the ‘Light the Night’ charity concert. Two years ago, Bev was the official pianist at the Papal welcome which was televised worldwide, and the year prior played at Kerry Packer’s memorial.