A NORTH Yorkshire ensemble skilled in the art of traditional Japanese drum-playing brings an exciting festival of sight and sound to the Milton Rooms, in Malton, next month.

The nine-strong Kaminari UK Taiko Drummers stage show features an array of drummers, thumping beat and energetic movement in a unique blend of traditional Japanese rhythms and their own original music.

The drum beat is complemented by haunting melodies from Michael Graham on koto (Japanese harp) and festival dance tunes from Anna Plews on shinobue (bamboo flute).

“This will be a cultural experience to remember and will take you on a journey through Japan's traditions, folklore and serenity,” said Milton Rooms programme organiser Libby Pearson. “It’s a visual performance as well as musical and will appeal to a variety of tastes and ages.”

Taiko simply means drum in Japanese. Modern taiko has origins in Japan in the 1950s when a jazz drummer decided to apply the principles of jazz rhythms to traditional Japanese instruments.

“Playing taiko is great fun. You can make a great sound immediately and within an hour of starting can be playing a piece,” said Kaminari drummer Jared Hardwick, from Appleton-le-Street. “But, once you start to play seriously, you realise that there is so much more to learn.”

He now teaches drumming in schools and workshops around Malton and York.

The group met through friends and a shared interest in Japan, its culture and martial arts. But their backgrounds are very different, including a doctor, a DJ, a meter reader, a pastry chef, as well as a teacher of Japanese.

The York-based Kaminari UK Taiko Drummers have been performing around Yorkshire and beyond since 2009. They have become firm favourites at events such as the Black Swan Folk Weekend and Galtres Festival, and performed at the National Railway Museum and Castle Howard, and most recently at Malton Food Lovers Festival.

The performance at the Milton Rooms in Malton is on Saturday, September 26, at 8pm. Tickets priced £10 (£8 for under-16 or over-60s), are available from the Milton Rooms box office or phone 01653 696240.