Founder, Director, Sensei
"In 1970 I hitch-hiked from New Jersey to California, graduating in '76 with an MFA from UC Berkeley. Then I got a one-way ticket to Japan and saw Taiko performed there but never guessed I'd actually play someday."
In 1986 Susan joined the San Francisco Taiko Dojo and soon after was back to Japan to participate in the first experimental apprenticeship program with Kodo on Sado Island.
Susan participated in international workshops with Kurumaya-Sensei in Fukui, hosted performances and workshops with famed performers Yoshikazu Fujimoto, Ryutaro Kaneko, Tomida Kazuaki, Joji Hirota, and others.
Since founding Emeryville Taiko on January 1, 1998, Susan has taught and facilitated numerous new local Taiko groups and after school programs, including teaching 18 years at Cazadero Performing Arts Family Camp.
Roots and Renaissance
1400 years of tradition meets jazz
Taiko drumming is an exciting modern art form with ancient roots. With origins in the religious ceremonies and folk festivals of Japan, modern "kumi-daiko" style emerged starting with the work of a single artist, jazz drummer Daihachi Oguchi in 1951. Spreading rapidly in Japan in the following decades, kumi-daiko has experienced a worldwide renaissance that began in the 1960s and continues to grow today.
Taiko in North America
San Francisco, 1968
Inspired by the lack of taiko at Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco, Seiichi Tanaka founded the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, first in the US. Since then Taiko dojos have been developed in LA (1969), San Jose (1973), and by now, hundreds of groups are active all over the continent.
Emeryville Taiko was initiated as an Oakland taiko class for children by Yuri Morita under the guidance of Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka. When Yuri decided to go to Japan, assistant director Susan Horn became instructor. The parents were so enthusiastic about joining in that Susan founded Emeryville Taiko, which is, by the way, a non-profit, registered 501(c)(3) organization.
Handmade by members
Senior drum builder Jenny Fuss led workshops in taiko building, resulting in more than 20 drums, all hand-built by Emeryville Taiko members. Members continue to build and maintain drums and equipment. Like most taiko in North America, our large drums are re-purposed wine barrels.
A tradition of innovation
The taiko repertoire is ever-changing. Some songs are recognizable wherever you hear taiko. Friends and members have brought songs from Japan and Brazil. Several songs were written by Sensei or in collaboration, and the senior students contribute to new versions of favorite songs.
Emeryville Taiko © 2017 a 501(c)(3) non-profit