Shonosuke Okura is percussionist and singer. He is the eldest son of the late Chojuro Okura who was the 15th originator of the Okura Style. (The Okura family has lasted for 650 years since Muromachi Era as one of the Noh musical accompaniment families in the field of Big Hand Drum and Small Hand Drum.)
Shonosuke Okura received the small hand drum lesson from his father to begin with. At age 8, he appeared on the stage. Then at age 17, he changed his instrument from the small hand drum to the big hand drum. Since then, with the big hand drum which is a Japanese traditional percussion instrument, he has tried to convey Japanese traditional culture and to seek after the possibilities, acting energetically in his own big hand drum performances on the Noh stages sponsored for himself, in the productions for Takigi Noh (Firewood Noh) stage and other types of performances, and in the live performance activities with foreign and Japanese artists.
Shonosuke Okura is an artist and a culture producer who sends the wonderfulness of Japanese culture towards the world. Shonosuke Okura, who established his position in the field of the big hand drum as a solo musician, performed on the stage in commemoration of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Dalai Lama, and also performed at the Last Millennium Christmas Concert in the Vatican Palace Concert Hall in December 2000. And he has played his solo big hand
drum performances in many ceremonies and events all over the world.
Shonosuke Okura sticks to the way to hit a drum with palms, which is regarded as the most difficult way in this field, and his style blending his body with his drum is highly acclaimed not only in Japan, but also in foreign countries. His music was used by the Japan Team for the Synchronized Swimming of the Olympic Game both in Atlanta and in Sydney. He appeared in the Mercedes-Benz CM, and he has been widely introduced on TV, magazines, newspapers and so on both domestically and internationally. Okura's CD, "World Beat" is released from America Piazza Plaza. "World Beat" is a collaboration of drummers and vocalists, including Native American drummer Dennis Banks, Narada Michael Walden, Greg Errico (formerly of Sly & The Family Stone) and more.
Shonosuke Okura's instrument of choice is the Otsuzumi, or side drum. In Noh, the principles of yin and yang dictate rhythms. The Otsuzumi reflects yang, or male side, and plays a cardinal role in establishing the overall rhythm in Noh performances. Unlike conventional percussion instruments, playing the Otsuzumi includes unique shouts called "kakegoe" the kakegoe comes in ryhthm with the performer's breathing, as does the beating of Otsuzumi. Finally, along with the sounds of Otsuzumi beats and kakegoe shouts come vitally important periods of silence called "ma," which may be even more important than the auditory portions of the performance. In fact, the ability to make the most of ma silences is the mark of a Noh master. Noh comprises an organic combination of lyrics (utai), dance (mai, and instrumental (gakki), performances that create simple yet incredibly complex artistic expressions in the masks worn by Noh "shite" dancers. During the 250 year Edo period in Japanese history, Noh was the officially recognized performing art for the bushi, or warrior class. In Noh, you may stil catch a glimpse of the aesthetic spirit of the samurai of yesteryear...