Playground Ensemble

Nakatani Gong Orchestra

October 5, 2019 @ The Savoy Denver.
7PM Doors. 7:30 Show.
$10 Suggested donation.

The NAKATANI GONG ORCHESTRA – NGO – is a nomadic, large ensemble contemporary sound art project. Local musicians are trained in Nakatani’s technique for playing his adapted bowed Gong, and he conducts them in a performance of his original composition. In the last decade, the NGO has performed hundreds of concerts involving thousands of participants around  the world in the creation of these transformative sound works.
For each unique performance, participating NGO players (musicians) are selected by a local presenter. Nakatani gives a specialized rehearsal to the players in preparation for the performance. There is no expectation of previous experience playing a gong. Nakatani instructs the players in his unique techniques for bowing the gong and following his method of conducting.

It is important to note that this project is not a traditional music program or traditional Japanese music, it is a contemporary sound art project. Nakatani’s adaption of the Chinese wind gong to respond to his percussive bowing technique in his solo work (c. 1995) led to the inclusion of other players trained in his methods to realize his compositions. The Kobo bows, mallets, and surrounding instrumentation equipment have all been developed and are hand crafted by Tatsuya Nakatani. After ten years of planning and preparation, the NGO began touring in 2011 with four adapted gongs and has grown to 17 gongs today (January 2019). It is the only bowed gong orchestra in the world.

To learn more about the NGO check out this video.


Tatsuya Nakatani is an avant-garde sound artist, composer, and master percussionist. Active internationally since the 1990’s; Nakatani has released over 80 recordings and tours extensively, performing over 150 concerts a year. His primary focus is his solo work and his large ensemble project, the Nakatani Gong Orchestra. With his activity in the new music, improvisation and experimental music scenes, Nakatani has a long history of collaboration. He teaches master classes and lectures at universities and music conservatories around the world. Originally from Japan, he makes his home in the small desert town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Nakatani creates his distinctive music centered around his adapted bowed gong, supported by an array of drums, cymbals, and singing bowls. In consort with his hand carved Kobo Bows, it is an instrument he has spent decades developing. A master of extended percussion techniques, it can be difficult to understand the genesis of his sounds. Nakatani approaches his orchestral project (NGO) as an arrangement of formations of vibrations, incorporated in shimmering layers of silence and texture. Within this contemporary work, one can still recognize the dramatic pacing, formal elegance and space (ma) felt in traditional Japanese music.