Students feel the beat

Marietta youth get to drum with Japanese performers

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Eyob Geogerian, 10, of Marietta, smacks drumsticks on the stage of Peoples Bank Theatre Friday during a workshop with Japanese Taiko performers.

When Zoe Campbell first stepped on stage Friday, she was anxious.

“At first going up there I didn’t want everybody to see me mess up,” she said. “But then when we all hit the drum at the same time, that went away–I felt strong.”

Campbell, 10, a student at Phillips Elementary, was one of about 600 children to experience a unique cultural exposition within the walls of Peoples Bank Theatre Friday.

She drummed alongside Ondekoza, a Japanese drumming group from the base of Mount Fuji, which has spent the week performing in local schools and will provide the public with a show Saturday.

Third-through fifth-grade students from Marietta City Schools experienced the workshop at the theater Friday, while students of Belpre City Schools, Marietta middle and high schools, St. Mary Catholic School and Veritas Classical Academy each had the opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese drumming, called Taiko, throughout the week, during performances at the schools.

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times A member of Ondekoza, a Japanese Taiko performing group, demonstrates the music of the traditional drums of his nation Friday at Peoples Bank Theatre.

Eyob Geogerian, 10, said drumming on stage with the visiting ensemble was fun, but hard to keep up with.

“I had to hit hard to make it sound loud,” he said after climbing off the stage, a little winded.

Meanwhile, Jaycie Tucker, 10, said she was shocked that the most massive drums were made from tree trunks.

“That’s a really big tree,” she said.

But the common favorite part, for both adults in the room and the children, was moving to one sustained beat.

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Zoe Campbell, 10, of Marietta, gains courage on the stage of Peoples Bank Theatre Friday during a workshop with Japanese Taiko performers.

“It was fun experiencing learning how to keep the strength up and stay with the rhythm,” said Campbell.

“I was kind of emotional when all of the kids in the crowd spontaneously started clapping along with the kids and drummers on stage,” added Hunt Brawley, executive director of the theater.

The program was the last of four sponsored world cultural events provided in partnership with Arts Midwest over the last two years.

“We first had the Chinese group Manhu back in October 2017,” explained Brawley. “Then Unni Boksasp was a Norwegian group that came in April 2018, and in November last year Sofi and the Baladis was an Israeli group that brought Samaritan music which, really, predates ancient Hebrew music. These are all experiences which east and west coast audiences have a better chance logistically at landing than the middle states, and really wouldn’t have been possible for us to model without Arts Midwest.”

Luke Rivard, program associate for international initiatives with Arts Midwest, explained that the nonprofit regional arts organization partners with venues like Peoples Bank Theatre in two-year cycles to provide Midwestern communities with access to programming that exposes other cultures paired with an educational component.

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Performers of Ondekoza, Japanese masters of drumming, called Taiko, perform on the stage of Peoples Bank Theatre Friday for students of Washington, Phillips, Harmar and Putnam elementary schools.

“We hope to spark curiosity,” he explained. “What’s cool about all of these groups we bring in the World Fest program is they are heavily vetted and trained to work with children and explain how they’re continuing these ancient cultural traditions but also evolving them in modern ways. Taiko in the 1960s really took on new meaning in Japan, and the product of that revolution of art and culture is what the children today and the public tomorrow get to experience.”

Third-grade Harmar Elementary teacher Alyson Tornes said she was proud of her students staying engaged and attentive during the performance Friday.

“And we’ll go back and write about what each of them experienced and talk about it, too,” she said.

Ondekoza will perform one final time in Marietta at Peoples Bank Theatre for the public at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are available through the Peoples Bank Theatre box office and online at

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Approximately 600 students from Marietta City Schools fill the seats of Peoples Bank Theatre Friday to experience Japanese Taiko, performed by the group Ondekoza

If you go:

• What: Ondekoza – Japanese Taiko Drummers.

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Peoples Bank Theatre.

• Who: Ondekoza are masters of the Japanese traditional taiko and train at the base of Mount Fuji. They have spent the week in Mid-Ohio Valley schools providing workshops on the music and invite the public to experience the art form, courtesy of the Arts Midwest World Fest.

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Jaycie Tucker, 10, of Marietta, drums along with local students and Japanese Taiko performers during a workshop at Peoples Bank Theatre Friday.

• Cost: $16 for adults, $10 for students and children.

Source: Peoples Bank Theatre.