Julia Misawa studied Japanese traditional Taiko for about ten years under the guidance of Master Seiichi Tanaka, who established the first and longest-running taiko group in the U.S. 50 years ago, the San Francisco Taiko Dojo (SFTD, est. 1968). As a member of SFTD’s pro-team, Misawa traveled and performed all over America included in the many places she has played are: Carnegie Hall in New York City, annual International Taiko Festival in Berkeley, California, the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco, California, and the Black Ships Festival in Newport Beach, Rhode Island.
After moving to Boulder, Misawa founded the group Boulder Taiko Hibiki in 2006, a citizen taiko group open to all ages, where students study the taiko based on the practice that Julia learned from the SFTD, with a focus on the four values, mind, skill, body and manner. Boulder Taiko Hibiki has been active in the local music and cultural communities, performing at a wide range of public events and schools throughout the Denver Boulder metro area and beyond.
In June of 2010, Misawa produced the first statewide taiko event in Colorado, Taiko Summit Colorado 2010, gathering the five performing taiko groups in Colorado for a sold out concert at the Boulder Theater (800+ seats), headlined by SFTD’s Master Tanaka himself and other invited guests, both performing and presenting workshops in the following days.
The Taiko Summit Colorado series has continued to the present, most recently highlighted by concerts in Macky Auditorium, Unity of Boulder, and at the Flagstaff Sunrise Amphitheater in June, 2017. Executive Producer Misawa brought two of the top touring groups from Japan for this event, Oedo Sukeroku Daiko from Tokyo and Gonna (taiko and marimba ensemble) from Nagoya.
The 2017 Summit also featured the debut of Misawa’s professional performing group, the Boulder Taiko Ensemble (BTE), which pushes new boundaries in the ever-expanding world of taiko performance, adding western drums (Joe Diamo), guitar and voice (Souichi Nakamura), shakuhachi flute (David Kansuke Wheeler) and violin (Anthony Salvo) to the traditional taiko mix. Original works by composer Story Nack and premiered by the BTE are already garnering rave reviews.