A Visit from the Drum Tao 2020 Tour


By Michael Aaron Coopersmith | mcoopersmith@radford.edu

With the eruption of sound in Radford University’s Bondurant Auditorium, the beating of the drums not only echoed outside the Auditorium, but into the heart of every man, woman, and child sitting in the audience.

This sense of wonderment was all due to the efforts of the Drum Tao 2020 Tour, having visited Radford University on Feb. 12.

Established in 1993, Drum Tao creates performances consisting of “Wadaiko-Japanese Taiko Drums” and beautiful melodies of Japanese flutes and harps.

But one shouldn’t think that their showings will be two hours full of the sounds of percussion, wind, and string instruments. As much as the sounds of drums, flutes, and harps can be interesting to listen to, they might not captivate an audience without the one element that turns a performance into entertainment, showmanship.

Their performance is a modern imagining of this style of instruments. Where drums were the size of adult men, showing off their amazing physical feats incorporated into their choreography.

Each set created a dynamic performance as a whole, moving from the rapid and exciting sound of drums to the mellow and humble sounds of the flute and harp that would charm any soul.

Expectations were subverted as the lights dimmed to pitch black, and suits of neon lights walked on to the stage. While the drums beat on, their choreography would be something reminiscent of neon signs. To which, their suits would turn off, and another performer would have their suit turn on, making it look as if the original performer had transported to another place. As that set went on, their stunts became more comprehensive and daring.

The finale was the hardest to watch due to the wanting of the show not to end.

Their music invoked something that would move in the audience, be it metaphorical or literally due to the grand sounds of the drums. One would only have wished for one more song.

They made a show that used three types of instruments and created something fantastical that had such a uniquely energetic performance that would captivate any audience member lucky enough to have them visiting their hometown. Audience members can take some comfort that the performers genuinely do care to make a show that is truly a spectacle to watch.  

If you enjoyed this article, check out the “Swan Lake” performance by Russian National Ballet Theatre on The Tartan.

Photo Credit: (Drum Tao)