Eva Kestner is a professional Taiko Drummer, Entertainer, Artist, and Educator.
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Eva was raised by a family of scholars and artists with mixed German and Japanese heritage. From a young age she learned how to play piano after her father introduced her to classical music, while she simultaneously learned Taiko after her mother introduced her to the Japanese arts. After graduating from the International School of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo she attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY where she earned a B.A. in Philosophy. While attending Cornell, she joined the Cornell University Percussion Ensemble. The following year, she co-founded the Taiko drumming student organization called Cornell Taiko (YAMATAI) and was the lead drummer and musical director. After graduating from Cornell at the young age of 22, she returned to Japan and started performing professionally. She started her solo career a year later.
Eva is also trained in Japanese folk dance (with focus on male styles) and has a passion for the street dance, Locking. She joined an Awa dance team affiliated with the prestigious Koenji Awa Dance Association, and made her way to become one of the top female dancers in Japan.
Today, she brings Japanese taiko drumming and song to a brand new context of pop music and also performs with many distinguished artists, musicians, dancers, and Taiko drummers across multiple genres. Eva does not only perform using taiko, she also uses a number of other instruments that have a distinct flavour of the Japanese environment including Koto (Japanese Harp), Voice, and Piano. Eva also works in the fields of education and teaches taiko drumming workshops to both children and adults, and is also involved in humanitarian efforts such as raising awareness for the disabled.
Her music, dynamic performances, and selfless spirit continue to inspire not only her many fans, but all who witness her performances all over the world.
The Harlequin of Love and Hope
Eva sometimes appears as the iconic character, the Harlequin of Love and Hope, conceptualized and designed by photographer/artist Benjamin Lee. The harlequin is an important character from the Italian theater, Commedia dell’Arte, and a symbol of love, hope, and optimism. The character of the harlequin first appeared in Italian theaters during the beginning of the Renaissance. The harlequin has inspired many artists over the centuries, including Picasso, as seen in his paintings of the harlequin in the early 1900s. This mystical and clever character has many faces and personality traits, sends gifts to the good and fights the evil, but most importantly, you cannot help but love them. In these current difficult times, the harlequin should play a prominent role in the lives of people who need optimism and hope.
The Age of the Harlequin
by Durian Sukegawa, writer, poet, and singer
“The harlequin can seize the audience’s attention, draw their eyes to herself, and make the other characters on stage appear invisible. The harlequin can change the whole scene, shift the audience’s perception, and suddenly become the main character in but a moment. With merely her piercing gaze, she can imagine and create a new reality.
In these challenging times, what character is more desperately needed than the harlequin? The harlequin sees the true sadness beneath people’s smiling masks, can see what’s never been seen and can hear what’s never been heard before. Thusly is the harlequin so close to people’s hearts. The harlequin knows how to sing a song that makes the world a better and more magical place.”
Eva wears the costume and make surprise appearances anywhere in the world, where Eva uses her drums to play music full of hope and energy. The harlequin’s appearance is unpredictable and divine, but she has the potential to appear before anyone who wants to meet her, a symbol of optimism and a bright light of hope for our future.
Shintaro Sendo (Noh Tsuzumi and Taiko)
Sato Ozawa (Japanese Folk Dance)
Karin Kondo and Sara Suehiro (Vocals)
Masami Hattori (Brazilian Percussion)
Mitsuko Nakabayashi (Koto (Japanese harp))
Wins award of excellence at the Ichikawa New Artists Comepetition, 2013