Roy Hirabayashi

For the past 39 years, Roy and PJ Hirabayashi have founded and cultivated San Jose Taiko(SJT) into international status. Beginning as only the 3rd taiko group to form in the United States in 1973, Roy and PJ, guided and developed a distinctive, contemporary, Asian- American sound that fuses traditional taiko rhythms with musical and cultural influences from around the world. Until their semi-retirement in mid-2011, Roy was the Executive Director and PJ was the Artistic Director.

Since the inception of SJT in 1973, Roy has been one of the composers, performing member and creative force behind San Jose Taiko. He directed collaboration projects between SJT and other artists/groups and initiated the Audition Process training and Junior Taiko programs. His primary instrument is the shinobue, the Japanese bamboo flute.

Roy has toured with Kodo and Ondekoza, two of Japan’s renowned professional taiko. Continues to participate as a workshop/panel discussion leader and as chairperson of the Executive Committee to the Taiko Conference Advisory Council. He was a judge for the International Taiko Contest in Tokyo in 2005 & 2006. He is also a founding member of KASA (Kodo Arts Sphere of America), a past board member to the Western Arts Alliance (WAA), First Voice (a multicultural arts coalition), and Artsopolis and is currently the president of the Japantown Community Congress of San Jose. Roy is one of the founders of 1st ACT (Arts, Creativity & Technology) and a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum of Silicon Valley and the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute. Roy is a recipient of the Creative Connections grants from Meet the Composers in 2006.

Under Roy and PJ’s leadership, SJT has received numerous awards including the Foreign Minister of Japan Commendation Award in 2010 for sharing the Japanese culture in the US through their taiko work. They were invited to Washington DC to be awarded the 2011 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, a lifetime honor in Traditional and Folk Arts.


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