Stuart Paton, Founder and Artistic Director of Burlington Taiko, spent most of his childhood in Japan, from age nine months through eighteen years. His earliest exposure to Taiko included a first-grade fascination with the drums at an Obon celebration in Tokyo, and learning "Matsuri Daiko" from the composer of the score for his high school drama production. His formal study of Taiko began in 1984 during a summer apprenticeship with Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka, the founder of the first ATaiko group in North America (San Francisco Taiko Dojo), and he founded the Burlington Taiko Group in 1986 not long after settling in Vermont.
Paton Sensei has established an artistic style for Burlington Taiko that combines movement, rhythm, voice, and the efficient and graceful movement of chi, or "energy," from the player to the drum. His affection for the group dynamic of Taiko is evident both when he performs at the most advanced level, and when he instructs the most novice players.
His list of "Top 3" favorite Taiko pieces includes six titles:
2. Oni Daiko
3. Onbashira, Tsunami, Sokobayashi, and Yodan Uchi
His other hobbies include: reading sci-fi/fantasy/spy fiction, salsa and folkloric dancing, walking though marketplaces, yard sales, and antique shops, and composing new percussion pieces. He is also an active student, teacher, and performer of Cuban and Haitian congas and djembe.
Since 1987, Burlington Taiko has been mesmerizing audiences with the powerful, spellbinding and propulsive sounds of the Taiko. Burlington Taiko Group estimates it has introduced over half a million people to the power of Taiko via public performances including feature performances at the 100th running of the Boston Marathon, annual performances at Burlington's First Night, the Joseph Campbell - Keepers of the Lore festival, the Black Ships Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, and over 200 corporate, collegiate and public performances.
In 2001, Burlington Taiko received First Night International's Prism Award, first place recognition for Most Creative Programming. In 2002 Burlington Taiko participated in its first tour of Japan, performing a series of concerts in the prefecture of Tottori at the Gaina Matsuri in Yonago. The group has been honored 3 times by the International Taiko community having been selected as a feature performer at the 2008 40th International Taiko Festival in San Francisco, the 1999 North American Taiko Conference in Los Angeles, and the 1998 30th International Taiko Festival in San Francisco.
Burlington Taiko is the performance arm of their non-profit entity, Taiko AikoKai New England (TANE). Their mission: to promote the performance and practice of Taiko and provide education about Taiko and Japanese culture.
About the Residency:
This residency is presented as part of an 8-day North Country residency offered by the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire. The residency is supported in part by the New England States Touring Program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies, including the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Additional operating support comes from the NH State Council on the Arts and the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund.