Drumming home the message

Local audiences will fall in with the beat tomorrow to June 20, as the Yamato Drummers of Japan will visit Greece. Joined by the Ithaki rehabilitation center percussion group, Yamato will perform on the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse. With their fascinating drums, their skillful movements and their mysticism, Yamato have given about 900 performances in 52 countries. The group’s artistic director Masa Ogawa spoke to Kathimerini recently. Will there be anything different in the program that you will present in Athens, Patras and Thessaloniki compared to your performances in other countries? We basically present the same show everywhere. We create a new presentation every two years. Of course, the show changes when hosted in an outdoor venue. How did you decide to work with former Greek drug users? Do you believe that art can help in rehabilitation? It was our Greek agent who suggested it. We believe that art can bring happiness and if people are happy, then they usually don’t need drugs. How would you describe the group to somebody who has never seen your shows? Yamato is a group of young professional drummers who play wadaiko – very small drums (30 centimeters and 2 kilos) – as well as very big drums that weigh more than 400 kilos and are 1.90 meters high. The way they play is very striking and full of energy and the show is at times serious and at other times funny. Yamato have created a family show that everyone seems to enjoy. Which countries that you haven’t been to yet would you like to visit in the future? We still haven’t been to Africa. It is something we really want to do, because we believe people there have an amazing sense of rhythm. We think they will very much like our show. How disciplined must one be to become a member of your group? Is there some sort of ritual before every performance? Any young and healthy Japanese boy or girl can come with us. A good relationship with rhythm helps. A lot of hard work and practice is needed to obtain the necessary physical condition, as well as experience. Before our shows, we tune the instruments and rehearse for about three hours, schedule permitting. We have a light snack an hour before the show and then we focus on the evening’s performance. What about afterward? After Greece, we have two scheduled shows in Bulgaria, then Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We will complete our European tour at the end of September and then we will tour Mexico and the USA for two months. Yamato will play at Athens’s Lycabettus Theater tomorrow and Saturday, at Patras’s Ancient Odeon on June 18 and at Thessaloniki’s Gis Theater on June 20.

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