About MI Hiryu Daiko
Hiryu Taiko means "Flying Drummers."
After a long, rewarding career as a professional taiko performer and teacher in the U.S. and Japan, Esther is looking forward to a more relaxed lifestyle than the stresses of marketing a performing arts group, even though it was a great ride. She is interested in now being an ambassador of Taiko–passing on the joy it has given her for the last 25 years. She looks forward to performing as support for all the people that will fall in love with this wonderful art form. She plans to have several groups, adult and children alike, in the Kalamazoo area and to organize an annual study/travel trip to Japan each year.
A Kalamazoo Matsuri is a dream project for the future. See the AZ Matsuri site for what can be accomplished with dedicated people and some donors.
Follow this link to read an article that appeared on SparkTheHeart.com about Esther Vandecar
Who We Are
ESTHER VANDECAR is the Director of MI Hiryu Daiko and retired Director of Fushicho Daiko, AZ. She studied, performed, and taught taiko in Japan for 7 years. She built a wonderful taiko community in Phoenix, AZ and, since June 2011, has been building one in Michigan. She loves teaching as much as performing. She is teaching taiko at Kalamazoo College and in the community. read full bio
CAROLYN KOEBEL is not only a Music Therapist, and guest instructor in music therapy at WMU, and World Drumming teacher at KC, but she is a multi=faceted, stunningly talented, and very eclectic musician. Taiko is her latest passion. Carolyn has been selected to train with Esther in a MI Master Artist/Apprenticeship project through MSU Museum. read full bio
GERREN YOUNG is a master woodworker and maker of unique drum sets, cahons, and soon taiko. Gerren has been involved in percussion since 6th grade band. He has been break dancer, acrobat, community band member (still), and his newest passion is taiko and he applies himself to all with respect and mastery.
ERICA BARAJAS has been into music since the age of 2 with a huge variety of instruments, and her experience included musical theatre, band, singing, visual art, and community organizing. She was in the Peace Corp in South America and now is a taiko player. Her smiling face is a great asset.
KING CHANG is a child prodigy studying classical piano from 5-13 years old. He’s a self-taught kit drummer, which led him to his interest in taiko. He has many talents in lighting, camera work, photography, and a way with words.
BRENNA HALPIN is not interested in playing a taiko, or any other drum but was drawn to the bamboo flutes so necessary to a performing taiko group of high quality. She is a silver flute player of wonderful skill and plays this new shinobue, bamboo flute, with great finesse considering she is self-taught, for now.
MIZA TIMMER is Japanese, from a musical family and played classical piano from 5-18 years of age. She never played taiko in her own country but is drawn to the familiar sound that once surrounded her. She recently attended one of MI Hiryu Daiko’s workshops in the community and is smitten. We are as glad to have her as she is about exploring this part of her culture.
KAREN J. SMITH is the only member, aside from Esther, who has previous experience. She was an English teacher in Japan and had the good fortune to be invited to join a local group. Like many of us returning from Japan, we do not expect to find taiko here, but she moved to just the right location. She too has been involved in music from a very early age through singing and violin.