Maui Zenshin Daiko performs in Texas for good cause


Photo by Shai Ibara

The 11 members of Maui’s Zenshin Daiko pose in front of a poster advertising their upcoming performance at the San Antonio Country Club. The drum group went to Texas in March to perform at various venues, including the Will Smith Foundation Gala on March 19.

Three KS Maui students have just returned from a week-long trip to where everything is bigger. That’s right, the Lone Star State — Texas!

Senior Shai Ibara, junior Sarah Catugal and sophomore Michelle Nakashima had the experience of their lives while performing with Maui’s Zenshin Daiko for a good purpose. 

“The main reason we traveled to San Antonio was to perform at the 7th Annual Wills Quest For Hope Gala,” said Ibara, who has been with Zenshin for six years.

Susan Moulton, who is the mother of Will Smith, established the Will Smith Foundation, dedicated to her son, who died at the age of 8 in a car accident on Maui in 2007.

But the trip idea all started with a conversation between Sarah’s dad and Moulton, who owns a condo at the hotel he works at. As good friends, Moulton mentioned how she had just come back from Japan and, coincidently, so had Maui’s Zenshin Daiko.

“She got so excited because the Will Smith Foundation supports non-profit kids organizations. So my dad gave her my instructor’s information, so she could talk to him about us playing at the gala, and she made it happen. We did it for Will. Our performances were dedicated to him, but our last one, especially, at the gala was all for him,” said Catugal, who has been with Zenshin for nearly nine years.

Moulton helped pay for all 11 members of Maui Zenshin and two chaperones to travel to San Antonio, as well as hotel accommodations and ground transportation, all so they could play at the gala. In addition, she donated $10,000 from the Will Smith Foundation to Maui Zenshin Daiko.

“She is one of the most loving and generous people I’ve met. This made me open my eyes and realize the value of life, and how it can be gone at any second, and if we think our lives are hard, think of those that lost their lives or loved ones,” Ibara said.

Not only were they given the opportunity to play at the gala, but they also shared their love for taiko at multiple events around San Antonio at places such as the Witte Museum, San Antonio Zoo, SeaWorld San Antonio, as well at a basketball game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The ladies finally returned home March 21 and reflected on the special trip.

“This trip has really showed me that music is so powerful and representing not just Maui or Zenshin, but the taiko community and knowing we did such an awesome job makes me feel humbled and proud of what Zenshin has been able to do within the past couple of years. Zemshin means moving forward and there’s no doubt that we have been pushing forward raising the bar each time,” Catugal said.

The foundation currently has two upcoming events planned for Maui. The 3rd Annual Will’s Water Day on May 31, and the 8th Annual Will’s Run for Hope on June 20. 2015. Click here for more information.

(This article was updated to include Nakashima, March 29.)