The Team


Karen S. Young

Chief Instigator of Taiko and Community

Karen Susan Young, social practice artist and cultural organizer. With over two decades of experience as a community and cultural organizer, she has worked to highlight taiko drumming and its community roots. Influenced by Japanese-American taiko activists of the 70s, Karen is most interested in using taiko as well as organizing strategies to empower, engage, and inspire people into action. In 2018, she was selected as one of seven Boston AIRs (Artists in Residence) charged with addressing issues of resilience and racial equity by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture and founded Older and Bolder. She is the founder and artistic director of The Genki Spark, co-founder/co-producer of the Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival, and one of the key organizers behind Women and Taiko. She also founded Youth on Board, a nationally recognized youth advocacy organization. Through her own personal experiences, Karen empowers others to share their voice and build communities of love and respect.

Teaching taiko isn’t just about teaching people to be with a drum, but how to be ‘good people’ through the use of music and art.
— Karen Young

Yidan Zeng

founding Team Member

Yidan Zeng is an intimacy investigator living and loving in New York. Though a graduate of the Brown|RISD Dual Degree program in Computer Science and Glass, she currently uses fabric, movement, and touch to spark moments for intimate connections between strangers. Her love for community has also been fueled by being part of Brown/RISD’s Gendo Taiko family. She's been a Create Change Fellow with The Laundromat Project, a Digital Accessibility Fellow with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and a soon-to-be visiting glass artist at The University of Hawai'i in Mānoa. She loves finding unexpected ways to fit things into small spaces.

Marley Kirton

founding Team Member

Marley Kirton is a 23-year old musician currently on a fellowship to further study taiko under Kenny Endo at the Taiko Center of the Pacific in Hawaii. He was first introduced to taiko in 2013 when he joined Gendo Taiko during his freshman year at Brown University, and fell in love with the combination of musicality, physicality, choreography and culture that surrounds taiko. He was raised on the island of Barbados in the Caribbean and hopes to be able to one day play and share these Japanese drums in his own home country. He joined Karen's team to help with the Taiko and Community project because he has always been amazed by the push for a shared sense of community in the North American taiko world he was adopted into, and believes that openly discussing questions of community and relationships will only improve the experience of the art form for current and soon-to-be taiko enthusiasts. 

Lina Lalwani

JUNE 2019 Artist in Residence

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Lina Lalwani recently graduated from Brown University, where she was a member of Brown/RISD’s Gendo Taiko and studied Ethnic Studies and Public Policy. For her Ethnic Studies capstone, Lina conducted research on how The Genki Spark provides spaces of empowerment for Asian womxn in the taiko community, as well as the greater Boston area. As the first Artist in Residence, Lina worked with Karen to build off of her previous work on the website with Yidan and Marley. Through Karen’s wealth of knowledge and resources, Lina incorporated new sections, reorganized, and updated the current website.

Interested in being the next Artist in Residence? Contact Karen below!