How it all started

Circle Percussion was founded in 1973 by Michael de Roo (back then the name was ‘Circle Ensemble’). Since 2002 Erwin Oudshoorn is artistic director and general manager. Circle Ensemble was named after the first composition they played, ‘Circles’ from the Italian composer Luciano Berio. With this piece they won an important price of the Gaudeamus Concour in 1974. Winning that price made the standard wich we still have today: Performances with the highest quality with the main focus on percussion.

Erwin en Michael

Erwin Oudshoorn en Michael de Roo
The Hague, 2011

The development

An important development of the ensemble was the first magical meeting with the Japanese Taikos. A visual and musical spectacle for eys ánd ears. This resulted in the first concert ever given on Japanese drums by percussionists, other than Japanese percussionists (Holland Festival 1983).

1984: Circle Ensemble organised a Dutch tour with special guest KODO, the famous Japanese Taiko ensemble. During this tour the specialtys of both groupes, the western percussion and the Japanese percussion, were combined wich resulted in magical concerts. At that time Circle was gathering their own Japanese Taiko collection, with the most special drum ‘Okedo O Daiko’, specialy made for Circle percussion by Taiko Company Asano. The measurements are extraordinary: 2.55 m long and 1.95 m in diameter, the biggest drum of this type outside of Japan.

1987 again was a special year with a tour of 5 weeks in Japan, invited by the “Tokio Summer Festival”.

The fire of ’88

1988 was the year of the big fire in the dependance of the Utrecht Conservatory. On March the 12th a huge fire destroyed this historical building and almost everything that was in the building. Only the biggest drum survived. Thanks to a benefit concert, with cooperation of Jasper van ‘t Hof and Slagerij van Kampen (Dutch Percussion Ensemble), and a lot of generous gifts of the Prins Bernhard Fund of Culture, Circle Percussion was able to build on their special collection of Japanese Taikos again. Even on the day you read this, people talk about the ‘before’ and ‘after’ period of the fire….

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Michael de Roo plays on the ‘Okedo O Daiko’. Made as an experiment at that time by Asano Taiko Company.
This enormous Taiko was rescued by our roadies and the fire department. The only Taiko that surveived the fire…


In that same year (1988) Circle Ensemble was invited by the Dutch Dance Theater to take part of the ballet ‘Kaguyahime’ from choreographer Jiri Kylian. Kaguyahime is played over 100 times and in more than a dozen of countrys.

Circle Ensemble 20 mei 1988 JPEG B&W met rand

20th of May 1988
The cast of Kaguyahime, with Japanese guest player and teacher Katsuji Kondo, master drummer of KODO. 

Photo made by Maki Ishii





Besides the intense collobaration with the Dutch Dance Theater the ensemble played a big role in a lot of other productions in countries as Argentina, Israël, Japan and America. In Europe we played in Spain during the World Expo and in Germany we were a headliner on the first ‘Tag der Deutsche Einheid (as a memory of the fall of the Berlin Wall).

1996 Circle Percussion made the first theatershow, together with percussiongroup Anumadutchi: ‘Drums of the World’. This became a big succes and a great start of a beautifull carrier in theater. The show is played over 250 times, worldwide! Circle Percussion created a standard for all future percussion shows, an inspiration for other groups.

During the anniversary of the 100 years of Olympic Games in Atlanta, America 1996,  Circle took part of the Olympic Arts festival with the show ‘Drums of the World’ and ‘Kaguyahime’.

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f.l.t.r. John May, Janwillem Van Der Poll, Erwin Oudshoorn and Gijsbert Zwart in the show ‘Drums of the World’ (1996).







1997, another highlight of Circle Percussion was made with the performances during “Extasia ’97” in Japan. We played our show ‘Drums of the World’ and collaborated with the local Taiko trio ‘Honoo Daiko’.

India, South Africa, Qatar, New York, Dubai…

Througout the years  Circle Percussion played on a large number of world stages. The performance in India during the opening ceremony of the Champions League T20 Cricket for 275 million TV viewers and 65.000 people live in the stadium for shure was one of the best. In Qatar we played the very special production ‘Kinetic Painting’ with artist Norman Perryman. We can go on and on about the beautifull performances in for example Dubai, South Africa, Japan, America, Spain and England but we don’t. Just check our list of ‘Highlights’ here.

Kinetic History website 2013 3Kinetic History website 2013 2

Kinetic Painting with artist Norman Perryman

Summary of theater shows:

Since 1996 Circle Percussion plays theater shows all over the world.

Season ’96/’97 – ’97/’98: Drums of the World
Season ’98/’99 – ’99/’00: Drums of the World; Anniversary edition
Season ’98/’99: The Rhythm of Life
Season ’99/’00: Kinetic Painting
Season ’00/’01 – ’01/’02: Drumtracks
Season ’02/’03 – ’03/’04: Drums of the World, Special Edition
Season ’04/’05: Drums of the World, Super Special
Season ’05/’06 – ’06/’07: Drums of the World, The Wild Edition en ‘Tuitende Oren’ (children’s theater)
Season ’07/’08 – ’09/’10: Drums of the World.4 en ‘Tuitende Oren’
Season ’10/’11 – ’11/’12: Down to Earth!
Season ’12/’13 – ’14/’15: Big! Men! Drums!
Season ’14/’15 – ’15/’16: CRASH TEST DRUMMERS!
Season ’15/’16 – ’16/’17: Bang That Drum