Ho Etsu Taiko began in 1997 as an off-shoot of the Midwest Buddhist Temple Taiko group, Chicago’s first and oldest taiko group with origins dating back to 1977. Rev. Koshin Ogui, the temple’s former minister, sponsored the formation of our ensemble and gave us our name: Ho Etsu, meaning “to spread joy” – a spirit we endeavor to reflect in our approach to taiko. Through the years Ho Etsu has grown from a temple youth group to a powerful performing ensemble in its own right, learning traditional kumi-daiko styles with an emphasis on self-expression and creativity.
Ho Etsu represents a passionate energy and lively spirit, and we strive to infuse taiko’s cultural legacy with new vitality. Part of our creative process includes collaborating with other taiko groups across the country and around the world. And we have extended our collaborations to musicians and performance artists beyond taiko. We have found that collaborations always result in something fresh and unique and that inspires intensity, drive and creativity to carry on taiko’s growth in North America.
Our music draws equally from traditional kumi-daiko musical styles and from a broad variety of contemporary music – a uniquely Chicago sound with global roots. We hope to honor our history, celebrate our present, and spark enthusiasm for the future of this exhilarating, heart-pounding form of artistic expression.
In 2015, Ho Etsu became a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. We hope to use our non-profit status to help extend our reach through performances, workshops and other cultural endeavors – spreading joy through each and every drumbeat.
Individuals start their journey to Ho Etsu through different paths; after seeing one of our performances, referrals by members or friends of Ho Etsu, or through our entry level workshops. We’re always interested in talking to individuals who share our passion for taiko.
Taiko focuses on drumming and rhythms of course, but as an art-form it is so much more. There is a visual aspect of taiko that requires physical and mental discipline. Beyond drums there are a variety of percussion and melodic instruments to master. There is a teaching aspect – we hold almost as many workshops as performances and often we combine the two. There is a creativity aspect as we compose most of our own pieces and we enthusiastically collaborate with other artists (taiko groups and artists outside the realm of taiko.) Finally, there is the ensemble. The taiko performance is only as strong as the ensemble itself. Teamwork above all else is our key to success.
With our schedule of workshops, rehearsals and performances we don’t have a set schedule for potential new member enrollment. Rather, we work it in to our schedule as opportunities arise. The section below provides a little more detail about becoming a member of Ho Etsu and some of the commitments that all members make to the group. If you’d like more information we’d be happy to get in touch with you. Just go back to our Contact page and send us a note.
The steps to becoming a member include:
We’ve identified a series of “commitments” that we believe are critical elements to successful membership. We agree to these with each member as they become part of the ensemble. Below are a few examples of the commitments that we expect from all Ho Etsu members.