TCP Co-Founder & Artistic Director, Instructor
Kenny Endo is one of the leading artists in contemporary percussion and rhythm. He is the vanguard of the taiko genre, continuing to pave new paths in this Japanese style drumming even after forty years as a career taiko player. A performer, composer, and teacher of taiko with numerous awards and accolades, Kenny Endo is a consummate artist, blending Japanese taiko with rhythms influenced from around the world into original melodies and improvisation. In June 2017, he was honored, along with TCP co-founder Chizuko Endo, by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii with their “Sharing the Spirit of Aloha” award. Learn more about Kenny Endo at www.kennyendo.com
TCP Co-Founder & Managing Director, Instructor
Chizuko Endo has been playing taiko for over 40 years; first with the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, then Osuwa Taiko of Nagano, Oedo Sukeroku Taiko of Tokyo, and currently with the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble and Taiko Center of the Pacific. She has performed throughout the world with Oedo Sukeroku Taiko (Tokyo) and the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble.
She has studied classical and festival drumming styles of Japan as well as gagaku “Japanese Court Music,” serves as a taiko instructor specializing in the Sukeroku and Osuwa styles arranged for youth and adults, and is Managing Director of Taiko Center of the Pacific. Chizuko is also an Artistic Teaching Partner in Hawaii public schools. She has been in short term residency at such schools as Waiau Elementary School (ES), Waiahole ES, Waianae ES, Wailupe ES, Kaunakakai ES, Puohala ES, Linapuni ES, Maunalani ES, Lanai School, Niu Valley Intermediate School, Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind, Molokai HS. She has offered a 5-week intensive course for grades 3-8 at Punahou Summer School for over 20 years. In 2016, she was honored with the inaugural “Distinguished Alumni” award from the University of Hawaii’s School of Pacific and Asian Studies Department – https://uhalumni.org/news/story/school-of-pacific-and-asian-studies-alumni-gathering In 2017, she was honored, along with TCP co-founder Kenny Endo, with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s “Sharing the Spirit of Aloha” award.
Part I of a 2 Part Series Interview: “Talkin Taiko with Tyrone”: https://soundcloud.com/talkin-taiko-with-tyrone/talkin-taiko-with-tyrone-episode-46-chizuko-endo-part-1
Kirstin Pauka has been a performance member of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble for the past 25 years and has been an instructor at TCP for over 15 years. As part of her training she has been studying and performing pieces of the traditional kumi daiko repertoire of various Japanese styles (Sukeroku, Osuwa, Hachijo), traditional Japanese festival music (Edo Bayashi, shishimai), and original compositions by Endo-sensei and other members of the ensemble. Kirstin has toured with the ensemble to Belgium, Germany, Japan, and the United States. She has been the recipient of two Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts apprenticeships with Kenny Endo in 2007 and 2008. Kirstin is an award winning professor in the Asian Theater Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, specializing in Southeast Asian performing arts, and currently holds the position of Director for the UHM Center for Southeast Asian Studies.
Instructor, Director of Taiko Center of the Pacific Youth Group
Brock Asato began studying taiko at age 4 with Taiko Center of the Pacific.
He was featured in an HBO special on talented youth focusing on his taiko pursuits. He joined the Taiko Center of the Pacific Youth Group early on and became a central player and leader of the group. He has participated in numerous North American Taiko Conferences taking workshops with such taiko leaders as Seiichi Tanaka sensei, Hiroyuki Hayashida, Shoji Kameda, Masato Baba, Kris Bergstrom, and more. Brock is the Director of the Taiko Center of the Pacific Youth Group and performing member of the Taiko Center of the Pacific adult performing ensemble.
Sho’on Shibata is a taiko performer, teacher, and researcher from Fukuoka, Japan. He began playing drum set at age thirteen. While studying musicology at the Crane School of Music, Sho’on was awarded a prestigious research scholarship to study taiko. While conducting fieldwork researching Matsuri Bayashi (festival music) in Japan, Sho’on founded Potsdam Ōkuma Taiko, a collegiate taiko ensemble based in Potsdam, NY. Sho’on was awarded the TCP Fellowship in 2015 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Ethnomusicology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In addition, Sho’on has also done field studies in of Karnataka Sangeeta in India, Pungmul in South Korea, and Afro-Caribbean drumming in Jamaica. Sho’on is a Taiko Center of the Pacific Performing Ensemble member and also performs with other taiko groups in Japan.
Lucy Aki Polanzi
Born in Japan, Lucy is a graduate of the Osaka College of Music. She has been involved in many theater productions, TV and radio recordings, and teaching and performing internationally since 1990.
She has taught music at many public and private schools on Kauai, including the Kauai Academy of Creative Arts and Kauai Community College. Lucy has much experience teaching young children from the age of 18 months old! She is the director of the “Joyful Noise” taiko group on Kauai and founder/owner of Joyful Noise School of Music on Kauai. She is also the founder/owner of Polanzi Piano Studios on Oahu. Lucy is currently training with the TCP Adult Performing Ensemble.
Kellie Matsudaira, originally from Seattle, Washington, began playing taiko with youth group Kaze Daiko, led by Stan Shikuma. While attending the University of Washington, she co-founded the collegiate group UW Taiko Kai in 2013 and co-directed until 2016. That same year, she was awarded the TCP Fellowship and in 2017 moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to study under Kenny Endo and the Taiko Center of the Pacific. During that Fall, she had the opportunity to perform with TCP in the UH Theater and Dance’s production of Taiko Drum & Dance: Hana Hou! Kellie is currently a performing member and instructor at TCP.
In addition to taiko, Kellie also takes lessons in Japanese classical and folk dance and enjoys attending the many bon dances held during the summer. She participated as a dancer in UH Manoa’s 2019 Asia Pacific Dance Festival’s production Local Motion! featuring the Kikunobu Dance Company.
Elizabeth comes from a background of classical and liturgical choral music, having been trained in singing and musical expression by her father. In 2011 she moved to Toyama, Japan as an English teacher with the JET Program, and there she began learning taiko under Ryuichi Yoshinari, a former Oedo Sukeroku Daiko member, and shinobue (Japanese transverse bamboo flute) under Yuko Haoka. After five years in Toyama, Elizabeth moved back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri and played with St. Louis Osuwa Taiko for two years. She also began furthering her shinobue studies remotely under Kaoru Watanabe (based in New York). In 2018, she was one of the recipients of the TCP Fellowship and moved to Honolulu to study, learn, perform, and teach at Taiko Center of the Pacific. Elizabeth is currently a performing member and instructor at TCP.
Lani Villanueva is a multi-instrumentalist/vocalist who returned to Hawai’i after receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in 2018. For 21 years, Lani has performed in various ensembles/performing groups including marching bands, concert bands, choirs, orchestras, comedy/improvisation groups, and taiko. Lani started her studies in taiko with Odaiko Sonora in 2013, and has also played with Fushicho Daiko & Ken Koshio (all groups from Arizona). Lani is currently a performing ensemble member and instructor at Taiko Center of the Pacific. She also serves as the ukulele/choir teacher and band instructor at Holy Family Catholic Academy.