Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble

Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble

San Francisco, California, United States

Founded 1999

Basic Information


Background Information

Group's Mission and Motivation

Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble (SYTE) was founded in 1999 to explore and develop works that incorporate taiko (Japanese drumming) with other types of performance art. Named after one of the most beautiful cherry blossom trees in Japan, Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble is inspired to balance the sensitive and elegant aspects of taiko playing with the strong and powerful. SYTE is comprised of four multi-faceted and classically trained artists who uniquely blend a wealth of rhythms, world inspired melodic woodwinds and strings, original costumes, theatrical sets and lighting, and a modern movement/dance vocabulary. Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble brings a new perspective to the art of taiko by focusing on modern compositions and visual motifs that step outside of the mainstream.

List of Founding Members

Ellen Reiko Bepp
Bruce Ghent
Hiroyuki Jimi Nakagawa
Kallan Yoichi Nishimoto

List of Current Members

Naoko Amemiya
Ellen Reiko Bepp
Hiroyuki Jimi Nakagawa
Kallan Yoichi Nishimoto

Membership Composition
(i.e. ethnicity, generation, average years of experience, musical backgrounds, and motivation for playing)

Ethnicity: Japanese and Japanese American
Average years of experience: 17

Biggest Changes
Describe two of the biggest changes that have characterized the group's development since its founding

Professional booking agent and national touring.

Performances, Recordings, Publications

Non-Taiko Collaborators
List a selection of non-taiko players or groups that have collaborated with the ensemble.

Robert Moses
Sara Shelton Mann
Robert Henry Johnson
Sue Li-Jue
Alleluia Panis
Krissy Keefer
Marcus Shelby
Kelly Tacunda Orphan
Unity Nguyen
Van-Anh Vo
Masayuki Koga
Jane DeCuir

Audio & Video Recordings
List a selection of publicly accessible audio and/or video recordings featuring the ensemble.

Out of the Box (CD: Asian Improv aRts)

Signature Works
Please include title, composer, date of composition, special reason(s) for composition, and what the work represents to the group.

All compositions are original musical scores written by the ensemble.


Ellen Reiko Bepp/ Kallan Nishimoto
934 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA, US


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A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation