Story and photos by Brittany Ward
May 14, 2018
Saturday night, the community gathered at the Asian Cultural and Community Center in Lincoln to hear the Japanese avant-garde sound artist and master percussionist, Tatsuya Nakatani and his project, the Nakatani Gong Orchestra. For over 20 years, Nakatani has been touring internationally, learning, performing and evolving as a percussionist and sound artist.
With his sound and art developing, Nakatani began making his own custom Kobo Bow to fit his unique sound as well as for other artists. The touring sound-art project started around 8-9 years ago with just four gongs, it has now almost tripled in size and is still growing. The project engages, educates and encourages participation with the local communities it visits with workshops and public concerts.
He opened the night with an explanation of what he loves about music and why he is studying the music he is and performing in that way. It’s more than just the notes and rhythm, the vibrations live music creates is what he is studying.
“Vibrations, you can feel it in your skin, your bones, your organs, everything. You can’t feel the vibrations on a recording, it’s not the same and it interests me as to why.”
The performance begun with a solo percussion performance by Nakatani, the crowd squeezed in together. With every seat, floor space and standing space in the centerr taken, Nakatani started off with soothing hum from the gongs before jumping to the three-piece tom drum kit. On the kit, he played other percussion pieces in a non-traditional and unexpected way like using the Kobo Bow on singing bowls and scraping symbols on the tom. The audience was mesmerized, so quietly-focused on the performance that one could hear a pin drop.
It is clear that Nakatani plays from an emotional place, not playing from a rehearsed set but from what sound and instrument can best articulate the feeling in the moment. He is an expert with knowing how to make the specific sounds from a non-traditional style of playing, something that could only be done with years of practice.
When asked about his performance and how he performs each time, he answered, “It’s not the same every time. I don’t have many rules but I start with the gong and end with the gong.”
After a short intermission, the performance continued with Nakatani as the conductor and 14 Lincoln community members, who attended the earlier workshop, as the Nakatani Gong Orchestra. With hundreds of performances and thousands of past participants, he can turn a couple hours in one workshop, he turned community members from gong novice into an educated, orchestra member.
For more tour dates and information, check out his website.
Brittany Ward is an intern with KZUM.