Masa describes himself as an entomologist and Taiko enthusiast. As a Taiko performer, Masa strives to "connect to every single person in the audience, and when I can get that atmosphere, then I feel satisfied." Away from the performance arena, Masa continues to cultivate creativity and connection through his blog TAIKOnnection where he shares his thoughts on people, culture, science, entomology, and life.
Masa founded TAIKOnnection in 2009. It is a coined word composed of Taiko + Connection. Masa explains: "What is the greatest asset a person can have? 'Human Connection' I say without hesitation. Everybody I have encountered in my life has helped me to get closer to a true free thinker with sharing of different perspectives and thoughts. Without these connections, I would never seek it out."
September 2009, Taiko History: To the Future of Music and Disabilities
In 2009, Masa conceived and organized his first TAIKOnnection concert tour in Upstate New York: "Taiko History: To the Future of Music and Disabilities." Underwritten by the Japan Foundation and the Postsecondary Education Network International at RIT/NTID, twenty drummers from Japan brought their progressive Taiko music to the US for the first time. The tour included Smith Opera House, Hobart and William Smith College, RIT, and hands-on workshops with students at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
One of the performers, Ryota Kataoka, is a blind professional Taiko player. Another, professional Taiko player, Ryuji Tomono, has developmental disabilities who says "his drums allow him to better connect with others." Masa Seto was a member of the troupe in Japan before moving to Geneva to attend college. "The vibration is what attracts the deaf audiences," says Masa. "So many deaf people really feel the beat from the drums. Some have said that's when they feel beats for the first time and really experience the music we're playing. It is the perfect opportunity to raise the interest of drumming and show people with disabilities can become professional musicians."
View Video of Taiko History: To the Future of Music and Disabilities
NHK Educational TV filmed a documentary titled "Funky Taiko Beat in NY" featuring Ryota Kataoka and Ryuji Tomono, filmed in front of the Geneva and Rochester audiences and broadcast in Japan on October 6 and 13, 2009. Watch the 30-minute documentary: Funky Taiko Beat in NY
Watch Semishigura featuring Ryota Kataoko, Masa and Aki Seto
April 2011, Benefit Concert: Drums for Japan featuring TAIKOnnection
TAIKOnnection is not a group of fixed artists. For every concert, different people from all over the world have become a part of TAIKOnnection. The one common theme is that each of these artists is connected to Masa through Taiko.
In 2011, Masa created and produced a benefit concert for 2011 earthquake and tsunami relief, performed at the Smith Opera House in Geneva, NY, with proceeds donated to the victims in Asahi City, Chiba, Japan. Performers Ryota Kataoka and Eva Kestner joined Masa and Aki Seto.
Watch Miyake, a traditional Taiko piece, performed by Ryota Kataoka, Eve Kestner, and Masa Seto.
March 2013, Benefit Concert: Taiko Note ~Solo and Fusion~
In 2013, Masa wanted to create and produce a program that would challenge preconceptions about traditional Taiko music, by fusing Taiko with Jazz.
The innovative program presented different styles of solo Taiko performances. Ryota Kataoka and Isaku Kageyama, a professional Taiko drummer from Boston, gave solos and duo performances in different styles. During the second half of the program, TAIKOnnection fused Taiko with Jazz. Ryota and Yuko Yamamura, a notable Jazz French Horn player from NYC, perform as a duo called Ajarria. It is one and only duo of Taiko and Jazz French Horn player. At the conclusion of the concert, the audience experienced a harmonic mixture of Taiko, Jazz French horn and vibraphone mixed together.
This was also a benefit concert for 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami relief. Over the past two years, a lot of people have gradually regained their normal life in the affected areas. Although the physical living environment might have been restored, many of them are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Masa's mother-in-law is a director of Tohoku Gakuin University Counseling Center, which is located in the center of the affected area, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan. Despite their own difficulty, she and her team have provided psychological therapy to the local community since the day after the disaster. To support their activity, TAIKOnnection donated a portion of profit from this concert to the counseling center.