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Review by TERRY RINDFLEISCH/Of the Tribune staff

The best English word to describe Yamato, the Wadaiko drummers of Japan, is phenomenal. But the Japanese have a better word, kurenai - auspicious, showy, fascinating elegant.

The 10-member Japanese troupe stunned a sellout crowd of 1,100 Thursday night at Viterbo University with its heart, never-ending energy and joyful drumming.

Yamato hammered out rhythmic beatings of the human spirit on various barrel-like drums in a theatrical presentation of the ancient traditions of taiko drumming. The ensemble of five men and five women struck their instruments with powerful, crisp, synchronized arm movements while they danced or conversed through the pitches of their instruments.

The performance was rhythm and precision in harmony as ensemble members showed off or engaged in drum battles or interplay. Some musicians played both sides of a sling drum, moving one stick back and forth in rapid motion in a sensational display of drumming.

Huge drums gave off the thunderous sound of lions, while small drums in the shape of racket set the scene for volleying an object among the members.

Yamato displayed brilliant musicality and refined artistry in an intense, fun and spirited symphony of the drums that drew a standing ovation.


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