Saturday, April 16, 2011

No Skin Off Their Drums: HSU Percussion Ensemble and World Percussion Group On Their Own

The absence of the Calypso Band and the different venue aren’t cramping the style of the HSU Percussion Ensemble and the World Percussion Group for their spring concert in Fulkerson Hall on Saturday, April 16. Instead they have more time to shine.

While the Calypso Band prepares for their Center Arts birthday bash at the end of the month, these two groups that normally share half of the combined concert have the entire evening.

 Their program takes advantage of this opportunity. “We’re doing a huge piece by composer Vaclav Nehlybel that’s scored for two pianists and 12 percussionists playing every percussion instrument imaginable,” said Ensemble director Eugene Novotney. “It’s highly rhythmic and extremely exciting.”

 Nehlybel, a prolific 20th century Czech-American composer, uses various combinations of membranes, woods and metals to create textures and soundscapes that surround the listener with pulsating rhythms.

 The Ensemble also performs a marimba quartet by Australian composer Nigel Westlake called Omphalo Centric Lecture. “This piece features a beautiful five-octave marimba designed and constructed in Arcata by Ron Samuels and Marimba One,” Novotney said.

 Two students take the limelight for the last two Ensemble pieces. Senior John Thomas from Los Angeles will be featured on the drums in Suite for Solo Drum Set and Percussion by Dave Mancini. Senior Tyler Hunt of Arcata will conduct the Ensemble in Taiko, a 1996 piece by American composer Scott Harding. “It’s based on the exciting and dramatic Taiko drumming traditions of Japan,” Novotney said.

Other selections on the Ensemble program include Third Construction by John Cage and Music for Pieces of Wood by American minimalist pioneer Steve Reich.

Those who come to the concert expecting dance rhythms in the second half won’t be disappointed. The HSU World Percussion Group, in collaboration with the African dance students from the HSU Dance Studio will provide them. “Their performance includes the complex Arara rhythms of the Afro-Cuban tradition, the exciting Mandeng Drumming of Guinear and the dance drumming of the Ewe people of Ghana, “ Novotney said. “It’s high-energy percussion music featuring precise rhythmic interplay and driving dance rhythms.”

 HSU Percussion Ensemble and the World Percussion Group perform on Saturday April 16 at 8 PM in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $7 general, $3 students/seniors, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID. Directed by Eugene Novotney and Howard Kaufman, produced by HSU Department of Music.

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