Taiko Drumming at the Music Garden

All summer long, there are free concerts in the Music Garden at the Harbourfront at the bottom of Spadina Avenue.  I took the kids to see a fabulous performance tonight of Japanese Taiko drumming by the Nagata Shachu ensemble, with guest Jason Matsumoto from Chicago.  (Click on the link to watch a video of their amazing music.)

The drumming was, literally, heart-stopping.  We sat inches away from the enormous drums, and we could feel the music being played.  The performance space is quite small, so the feeling is really quite intimate.  The crowd tonight spilled out onto the boardwalk and up along Lakeshore Boulevard, so I was grateful to have squeezed into our stage-side spaces.  We had run to get there, and the kids were none too pleased with my having gotten us lost on the way.  Add to that the fact that I had said that I’d take them to see Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters tonight, forgetting about my commitment to meet friends for this concert, and you can imagine the tough crowd these drummers played to.  Well, after the first piece, my youngest said he wanted to get up and play with them.  My eldest leaned over mid-way through and said, “This beats a movie any day.”  Tough crowd wowed.

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The setting is perfect for both kids and music.  The Music Garden performance area has tiered, grassy seating, with a grass stage.  (You can see it in the upper left of the picture.)  All around the tiny outdoor amphitheatre, beds are planted with native grasses and flowers, and the shore of Lake Ontario is metres away.  The kids can stretch out on the grass, you can bring a picnic dinner, and the city feels a million miles away.

Just west of the performance space, there is also a labyrinthine path that winds through trees and towering grasses and flowers, and that part of the garden was inspired by Bach’s cello concerto: “A reflection in landscape of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1007.”  You can read more about it here.  The garden was the brainchild of cellist Yo Yo Ma, and I highly recommend it for an outing on its own.  The kids had a blast running through it after having sat for the music.  (And when I say “through it”, I do mean that they trampled some of the plants and I had to be a growly mother bear and tell them to keep to the path.  Grrrrrr.)  And when some steam had been burned off, we stepped back into the city, caught a bus that had no other passengers, and made our way home.  A magical evening.

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