During the July 28 ShastaYama taiko festival in Mount Shasta, Shasta Taiko will premier a new composition titled “Yama,” the result of a grant from the Shasta Regional Community Foundation’s Arts in Community Program.

The eighth annual ShastaYama taiko festival will thunder through Shastice Park in Mount Shasta next weekend, Saturday, July 28, beginning at 6 p.m.

ShastaYama 2012 will be a reunion of relations and lineage of a special “taiko family” and a historic gathering of leading American taiko artists.

San Jose Taiko will join Shasta Taiko and special guest artists Masato Baba, Michelle Fujii, Toru Watanabe and Kris Bergstrom.

Shasta Taiko will premier a new composition titled “Yama,” the result of a grant from the Shasta Regional Community Foundation’s Arts in Community Program.

“We opened the composing process to include ideas and input from Shasta Taiko members.  It’s very exciting, inspirational, and rewarding to have this opportunity to create something together,” said Russel Baba, who founded Shasta Taiko with Jeanne Mercer.

For 27 years, Mount Shasta’s Shasta Taiko has developed the art of taiko in northern California through lessons, workshops, and performances.  In 2005, Shasta Taiko established the annual ShastaYama festival, the largest outdoor taiko festival in the country featuring many of the leading taiko artists in America.     

The performers

San Jose Taiko

Established in 1973, San Jose Taiko’s program serves as a successful model for many taiko groups throughout the taiko world, according to a press release. Founders Roy and P.J. Hirabayashi received one of America’s highest honors in folk and traditional arts, the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow in 2011. San Jose Taiko tours nationally and internationally, appearing in such venues as Carnegie Hall. San Jose Taiko’s performances have been described as mesmerizing, powerful, fantastic, thrilling, dynamic, entrancing, and spectacular.
Shasta Taiko and San Jose Taiko have fostered, nurtured, and inspired a new generation of taiko artists and leaders.  This new generation is well represented in ShastaYama’s world-class performers – Masato Baba, Michelle Fujii, Toru Watanabe, Kris Bergstrom, and San Jose Taiko.       

Masato Baba

Masato Baba’s impeccable artistry has put him at taiko’s forefront. The son of Russel and Jeanne, Masato Baba grew up playing taiko as a member of Shasta Taiko.  Masato performs with new generation taiko groups On Ensemble and TaikoProject based in Los Angeles and serves as TaikoProject’s Artistic Director.  

Michelle Fujii

Michelle Fujii is known for her blending of virtuoso dance and taiko.  She has been a member of San Jose Taiko, On Ensemble, and TaikoProject and is the Artistic Director of last year’s ShastaYama guest, Portland Taiko.  

Toru Watanabe

Michelle’s husband Toru Watanabe has toured with Japan’s leading folk dance group Warabi-za.  With Michelle, Toru helps lead Portland Taiko with his dynamic dance and choreography.  

Kris Bergstrom

Kris Bergstrom is gaining a reputation in taiko as a member of On Ensemble and TaikoProject.  Kris is an active member of the taiko community and brings a fresh and unique spirit to taiko and ShastaYama.  

ShastaYama 2012

The festival will be held on Saturday, July 28 at 6 p.m. at Mount Shasta’s Shastice Park. Gates open at 5 p.m. and food and refreshments will be available. Bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating on the grass, and warm clothes and flashlights for after sunset. No pets or glass will be permitted.

Tickets are $25 for ages 18 and over; $20 for ages 13-17; $15 for ages 5-12. Ages four and under are free.

Tickets can be purchased at Village Books and at Soul Connections in Mount Shasta, at the Yreka Chamber of Commerce, and at Bogbean Books & Music in Redding; and at the gate.  

To purchase tickets by credit card, call (800) 926-4865 ext 203 or go online: shastayama.org

You may also call (530) 859-8686 for more information.

ShastaYama is sponsored by Shasta Taiko, Mt. Shasta Chamber of Commerce, Mt. Shasta Recreation District, Berryvale Grocery, The Crystal Rooms, and Wholesale Solar.