Saturday, December 04, 2010

Percussion Ensemble & Calypso Band Concert: Director's Notes

Percussion Ensemble
The featured work on the program is TOCCATA for Percussion Instruments, composed in 1942 by the Pan-American composer, Carlos Chavez. Chavez was born and died in Mexico City, and at the age of 29, he was named the director of Mexico’s National Conservatory ands the director of Orchesta Sinfonia de Mexico.

In this piece, Chavez calls for native percussion instruments, such as claves, maracas, bombo, and Indian drums, mixed with standard European instruments, such as timpani, snare drums, field drums, chimes, bells, and xylophone. He also adds Asian gongs into the mix to create a true “mixed-world” instrumentation. Musically, he combines exciting rhythmic passages and sudden dynamic changes with slower passages that employ exotic scales and timbres. The result is a piece that is both fascinating and profound that will certainly be a memorable experience for all in attendance.

The first half of the show will end with the World Percussion Group performing a suite of traditional Mandeng Drumming of West Africa as well as an inspiring arrangement of Afro-Cuban folkloric music presented to the Humboldt audience in its classic form using all indigenous instruments. This is a show that will have something for everyone!

Calypso Band
The second half of the concert will feature the festive dance music of the Humboldt State Calypso Band. The band will feature several high-energy dance compositions from the Caribbean in their set, including the classic panorama composition by Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, BIRTHDAY PARTY. The composition, BIRTHDAY PARTY, has significant meaning for the group, as this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Calypso Band at Humboldt State. The Calypso Band was founded in the spring of 1986 and will be celebrating all year with a series of concerts of which this will be the first.

The Humboldt State Calypso Band prides itself in maintaining an accurate and authentic connection to the roots of the steel band movement and the innovative musicians of Trinidad, the island on which this unique percussion phenomenon was born. The band is dedicated to the performance of traditional and contemporary music from the Caribbean, Africa, Brazil, and the United States.

--Dr. Eugene Novotney

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