Ondekoza, a musical ensemble from Japan, will visit Marietta as part of Arts Midwest World Fest. The five-member ensemble features the delicate and soulful sounds of the shakuhachi and the sheer power of the taiko drums. Fusing incredible athleticism, pounding rhythms, and peaceful melodies, Ondekoza’s performance will leave you inspired and energized. The ensemble has captivated audiences across the globe since 1969 when the group first began. At the foundation of Ondekoza’s style is a unique combination of physical fitness, running, and drumming—a philosophy called sogakuron, where “running and drumming are one, and a reflection of the drama and energy of life.” They demonstrated this principle in 1975 in Boston where, after completing the Boston Marathon, Ondekoza immediately ran on stage and performed a full concert. Ondekoza members live together in Japan, running and drumming at the base of Mt. Fuji. Ondekoza will perform a public concert at Peoples Bank Theatre on Saturday, February 16 at 7:00 p.m.

Peoples Bank Theatre and the Hippodrome/Colony Historical Theatre Association are in the midst of a two-year partnership with Minneapolis-based Arts Midwest. Ondekoza is the fourth of four different international ensembles to visit Marietta, spending a week each. The first ensemble, Manhu, from China, visited in the fall of 2017. 

“The first ensemble visits went well and we’re eager to have another group in town for a week, “ says Peoples Bank Theatre Executive Director Hunt Brawly. “The groups not only perform a public concert but most of the week they are in the schools and other community locations sharing their culture through workshops.”

During the week Ondekoza will perform and hold workshops for students at Marietta schools, St. Mary’s School, and Veritas Classical Academy, Belpre schools, and Marietta College.

“It’s not often smaller communities like ours have the chance to host international ensembles like Ondekoza at all—let alone for a full week,” continues Brawley. “We’re fortunate.  This is a rare opportunity for us to enjoy an authentic slice of Japanese music and culture right here.” 

According to Brawley, the theatre would typically would not have the resources to host week-long residencies of the kind Ondekoza will offer. Arts Midwest, one of six U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, partners with program sponsors like The National Endowment for the Arts, The Hearst Foundations, 3M, and the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program to cover a substantial portion of the program cost so that communities throughout the Midwest can enjoy this rich arts experience. Marietta and Peoples Bank Theatre were selected as one of only nine Midwestern locations to host the 2017–2019 Arts Midwest World Fest and is the only partner community chosen in Ohio. 

“It’s a real honor to be part of this program,” says Brawley

David Fraher, president & CEO of Arts Midwest notes, “Arts Midwest’s goal is to make meaningful and lasting impressions on the communities that host this program. We think week-long residencies can offer so much more than one-day visits. There are more opportunities to truly connect with each other whether through workshops in schools, concerts in the greater community, or through social gatherings. We want this to be a rich experience for the entire community.”

Arts Midwest World Fest presents international music ensembles in the nine-state region it serves with the goal of connecting small and mid-sized Midwestern communities to world cultures. Arts Midwest’s organization-wide mission is to “promote creativity, nurture cultural leadership, and engage people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives.”

A program of Arts Midwest, the 2017–2019 Arts Midwest World Fest cycle is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Hearst Foundations, 3M, the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program, the Kaufman Family Fund for Israeli Cultural Exchange, the Nordic Culture Fund, Music Norway, and the BNSF Railway Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Heritage Foundation Grants Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation for Manhu. Funding for Sofi & the Baladis is provided in part by contributions from the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest; Israel Lottery Council for Culture & Arts; and Music Port. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Arts Midwest is also generously supported by Illinois Arts Council Agency, Indiana Arts Commission, Iowa Arts Council, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Minnesota State Arts Board, North Dakota Council on the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, South Dakota Arts Council, and Wisconsin Arts Board.

Tickets for the Saturday, February 16 concert with Ondekoza are $16 ($10 for students) and available at the Peoples Bank Theatre box office, by calling 740-371-5152, and online at  peoplesbanktheatre.com