Kaoru Watanabe and/or our ensemble group are available for full length concerts, workshops, lectures, demonstrations and events. Please inquire with us at email@example.com.
Professional Ensemble Members
Barbara Merjan has performed with various pop and jazz artists in a variety of musical contexts (Lesley Gore, Mark Nadler, Beth Malone, Lea DeLaria, Marian McPartland, Dizzy Gillespie), Japanese taiko (Kaoru Watanabe, Taikoza) and American Contemporary music (Jerome Kitzke, Linda Fisher, Kaoru Watanabe, Amanda Ray).
Her extensive Broadway, Off Broadway and touring experience includes the shows Elf, Promises, Addams Family, Cabaret, Mary Poppins, Miss Saigon, Cats, Sunset Blvd., Bed Bugs, the Musical, and Something Rotten!
Barbara currently teaches taiko drumming at Wesleyan University.
Native of Japan, Fumi Tanakadate is a taiko artist and pianist based in New York. Drawn to the artistry of Kaoru Watanabe, she has been studying taiko under him since 2011. Having a unique combination of an extensive musical expertise in European Classical music and a background in traditional folk dancing, drumming and flute playing from her local festival in Japan, she quickly became an active member of Néo, Watanabe’s ensemble that aims to blend the nostalgic sound of Japanese traditional festival and theater and the interplay of complex jazz improvisations. She has performed at Joe’s Pub, ShapeShifter Lab, Nublu, National Sawdust and Pioneer Works. Fumi has collaborated with Yuu Ishizuka, Sumie Kaneko, Shane Shanahan, Chieko Kojima, On Ensemble, Alicia Hall Moran and Satoshi Takeishi and performed in Kenny Endo’s 40th Anniversary Tour. Most recently, she was on tour with Kaoru Watanabe and Yuta Sumiyoshi of KODO as a trio.
Fumi also serves as an instructor at Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center, teaching classes and giving educational workshops at local schools and colleges. Her former teachers include Mark H Rooney, Rogerio Boccato, and Mark Soskin. She also took workshops with Kenny Endo, Chieko Kojima, Patrick Graham, and Tetsuro Naito, and Yuu Ishizuka.
As a classical pianist, Fumi has performed throughout Japan, tri-state area, Austria, and Spain. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Wesleyan University and a Master of Music degree in piano performance from Manhattan School of Music.
The KWTC Ensemble is made up of advanced students, students who have the experience and training to put on a dynamic performance. The Ensemble has performed at community events - such as the Asian Pacific American Heritage Celebration in Chinatown, Mid Autumn Festival in Staten Island, East Fourth Street Community Garden, the cancer patients benefit seminar at New Jersey Aikido Dojo- and corporate functions - such as Suntory Whiskey, Shiseido- all over the New York Tristate area.
Photo credit: Sarah Gilbert