New Taiko Drum Ensemble for Regional NSW Schools

Launch of MAXed OUT Company’s Taiko ensemble in Baradine. Image Credit: Moorambilla Voices website
Graham Strahle
| September 25, 2017

One of the largest sets of Taiko drums in Australia was presented to Moorambilla Voices for use in its performance group MAXed OUT Company which serves high school children across the North West region of NSW.

Twenty-four new drums were handed over to members of MAXed OUT in the township of Baradine and played under the guidance of Taikoz, a long-time collaborator and teaching partner with Moorambilla Voices.

They are understood to be the first commercially produced Taiko drums in Australia, and were made by TaikoDrumWorks on the State’s south coast using all-Australian materials.

Moorambilla’s artistic director, Michelle Leonard, describes the drums as works of art and says they will be permanently stationed in high schools in Cobar, Coonabarabran and Lightning Ridge “to inspire the children to explore and play music”.

The idea began when David Hewitt, artistic director of Stonewave Taiko in Tathra (and previously a member of Synergy Percussion and a founding member of Taikoz) thought of having these traditional Japanese drums manufactured locally. He says: “Made to a Japanese-based design, the drums are from Australian materials – deer and cow skins from Tasmania, woods like Jarrah and Mountain Ash from Western Australia and Red Cedar from Coffs Harbour in northern NSW.”

Moorambilla Voices was able to purchase them with a $50,000 grant from the NSW Government’s Community Partnerships scheme. Ultimately they hope to acquire 50 Taiko drums.

This first instalment of drums was played in Moorambilla Voices’ Gala Concert in Dubbo on September 23 and 24.

Based in Leichhardt, Moorambilla Voices runs one of the most enterprising choral programs for children in Australia. Its regional choirs for students in Years 3-6 cater for 200-plus girls and boys. MAXed OUT Company, which began in 2008, combines high school aged singers, dancers and percussionists, and offers up to 100 places in its annual program of workshops, residency camps and tours.

Last year, MAXed OUT recorded a CD entitled Yindyamarra with songs in the Wiradjuri language. Collaborating with them were members of the Australian World Orchestra and pianist Clemens Leske.

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