When the Japanese drumming sensation TAO gained worldwide acclaim with performances at the 2004 and 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festivals in Scotland, achieving the highest ticket sales for two years in a row, the Edinburgh Evening News declared “Undoubtedly one of the finest shows on offer on the Fringe this year, this has to be seen to be believed.”

At the U.S. premiere of the Japanese drum group TAO, Saturday, December 1, at the State Theater in New Brunswick, the audience will experience Wadaiko drumming combined with gongs, flutes, cymbals, an assortment of smaller drums, and vocalization. Using influences from around the world, including djembe drumming (a skin covered hand drum, shaped like a large goblet) from Africa, Taiko, and gymnastics, combined instrumental music, TAO celebrates one of the most treasured musical art forms in Japanese culture.

While the wadaiko drums and severe training form the core of TAO, elaborate themes and storylines, special effects, and show lights are utilized as additional creative elements to help produce intriguing performances that stir the senses.

Composed of eight males and three females, the 11 artists performing for TAO are: Yoshinori Suito, Natsuko Kuroyanagi, Maki Morifuji, Arisa Nishi, Ryohei Taki, Hiroaki Kishino, Shingo Kawahara, Taro Harasaki, Kazuya Sato, Takuya Era, and Torikoshi Junji.

Firmly rooted in the town of Kuju, Japan since the mid-1990s, TAO was founded in 1993 with a mission to create a production that would capture the essence of Japanese Wadaiko drumming and appeal to international audiences. The group recently released its debut album and DVD special “The Martial Art of Noise” in Japan and abroad.

TAO — the Martial Art of the Drum, Saturday, December 1, 3 and 8 p.m., State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. $25 to $55. www.StateTheatreNJ.org or 732-246-SHOW (7469).

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