Saturday, December 07, 2013

Notes: Percussion Ensemble & Calypso Band Concert

“Presenting contemporary music for Percussion Ensemble; the folkloric percussion music of the of West Africa; the exciting rhythms of the Brazilian Samba; and the festive steel drum sounds of the Calypso tradition of the Caribbean.”

 The Percussion Ensemble will open the show by presenting a wide variety of contemporary music for percussion, including the Northcoast premier of Oops, made famous by jazz vibraphonist, Mike Manieri, and the seminal jazz-fusion group, Steps Ahead. Oops features an infectious groove and a phenomenal arrangement orchestrated for Marimbas, Vibraphones, Bells, Chimes, Steelpans, Bass, and Drumset, and will feature a vibraphone solo by HSU percussionist and graduating senior, Nev Mattinson.

 Also featured will be Christopher Rouse’s engaging composition, Ogoun Badagris, which is based on Haitian ritual rhythms to the deity, Ogoun. Here’s the composer’s description: “Ogoun Badagris derives its inspiration from Haitian drumming patterns, particularly those of the Juba Dance. Hence, it seemed logical to tie in the work with various aspects of Voodoo ritual. Ogoun Badagris is one of the most terrible and violent of all Voodoo loas (deities) and he can be appeased only by human blood sacrifice. This work may thus be interpreted as a dance of appeasement. The four conga drums often act as the focal point in the work and can be compared with the role of the four most basic drums in the Voodoo religion — the be-be, the seconde, the maman, and the asator. The metal plates and sleighbells are to a certain extent parallels of the Haitian ogan. The work begins with a brief action de grace, a ceremonial call-to-action in which the high priest shakes the giant rattle known as the asson, here replaced by cabasa. Then the principle dance begins, a grouillère: this is a highly erotic and even brutally sexual ceremonial dance which in turn is succeeded by the Danse Vaudou at the point at which demonic possession occurs. The word "reler," which the performers must shriekat the conclusion of the work, is the Voodoo equivalent of the Judaeo-Christian amen.”

 Additional works on the concert include Mark Ford’s, Head Talk, composed for REMO pre-tuned drumheads, and the percussion trio, Intentions, composed by the groups’ director, Eugene Novotney.

The first half of the show will end with a suite of traditional Mandeng Drumming from West Africa, and a special presentation by the HSU World Percussion Group of the the exciting rhythms of the Brazilian Samba, all performed on traditional folkloric instruments.

 The second half of the show will feature the festive dance music of the Humboldt State Calypso Band. It is significant to note that while HSU is celebrating its 100th year anniversary this year, the Calypso Band celebrating its 28th year of existence, all under the direction of its founder, Dr. Eugene Novotney. For over a quarter-century, the Calypso Band has been performing and entertaining local audiences, and has proven to be one of Humboldt County’s favorite musical ensembles.

 The Calypso Band will feature several high-energy dance compositions from the Caribbean in their set, including two modern Panorama classics from the island of Trinidad – Fire Down Below by Len “Bogsie” Sharpe, and Pan in ‘A’ Minor by Lord Kitchener & Jit Samaroo. 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, Cuba and the United States.

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