Collegiate Players Celebrate 25th ITI

This is a report submitted by Amberlin Chen, Michelle Li, and Thi Nguyen of Stanford Taiko, hosts of NATC 2019. Stanford Taiko was a recipient of a 2019 TCA Mini-Grant.

This year’s Memorial Day Weekend on Stanford’s campus was special. Together with hundreds of collegiate and professional taiko players, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational (ITI). 

First established in 1995, ITI has grown from an event with only three collegiate groups to an annual two-day conference that brings together over 180 collegiate taiko players who have the opportunity to learn from and play with professional taiko players on the vanguard of North American taiko. Rooted in a spirit of open-minded learning and a celebration of diversity and heritage, this event is one of the largest events held for the North American taiko community.

As this year marked the 25th anniversary of the event, we were excited to celebrate the bonds that have been created and strengthened over the past quarter-century. In celebrating this milestone, we hoped that this ITI could both honor the community built by 25 years of collegiate taiko players and explore how taiko has been shared and pushed by the gathering of our communities within the larger North American taiko context. 

To celebrate the contributions of both the collegiate community and the larger taiko community represented by our workshop instructors, we held two separate concerts: the first on Saturday evening featuring our workshop instructors, and the second on Sunday afternoon featuring the collegiate taiko groups. All performers were invited to showcase work that they felt embodied their/their group’s signature approach to the art and music of taiko.