BETHEL — Several stages will rumble with the thunderous power of taiko drums when the Mahoosuc Arts Council brings the Burlington Taiko Group to the area later this month.

Presentations of this ancient art form, known as a feast for the senses, will be part of the Gould, Telstar  and Mahoosuc Arts Elementary performing arts series, which serve more than 1,300 students in kindergarten through grade 12, as well as the general public.

The public performance will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct.23, at Bingham Auditorium, 45 Church St.

Japanese for “big drum,” taiko is a relatively modern revival of ancient drumming traditions. The drums were originally developed in India where they were used in religious ceremonies to represent the voice of Buddha. Moving across China and Korea with the spread of Buddhism, taiko arrived in Japan around 500 AD.

Taiko became an integral part of Japanese culture. Priests played taiko to dispel evil spirits and drive insect from the rice fields; Samurai employed taiko to instill fear in the enemy and courage in themselves; and villagers used taiko in their prayers for rain, in festivals and in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Over time, many areas developed unique choreography and rhythms celebrating festivals or recreations of historic events.

In modern times, taiko has emerged as a performing art. Groups such as Osuwa Daiko, led by Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi, and Sukeroku Taiko of Tokyo pioneered the way in the early 1950s, collecting the local festival rhythms and transforming them into stage performance pieces. Groups such as Ondekoza (founded in 1969) and Kodo (established in 1981) began astonishing world audiences, showcasing an almost superhuman style of taiko fostered by living a disciplined communal life dedicated exclusively to taiko.

For tickets, $15, call 824-3575 or visit www.mahoosucarts.org.


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