Musical Excursion: Percussion Ensemble

The Navigator

The Percussion Ensemble took listeners on a journey by creating imagery through the audience’s ears with a distinctive performance in JU’s Terry Concert Hall on Saturday evening, November 6.

“I was overwhelmed by the unique use of sound as an instrument,” said Ciaran Sontag, sophomore.

John Cage’s ‘The City Wears a Slouch Hat’ paired with JU’s premier presentation of the Indonesian Gamelan filled the theatre with an atypical mix of sounds.

The first selection was a short introduction to a bit of the Indonesian way of life.

“It’s really cool that they are bringing in different cultures,” said Lauren Oishi, junior at the Florida Institute of Technology.

To play the Gamelan, members of the ensemble sat cross-legged on the stage to strike the group of drums, gongs and metal bars that comprised the instrument.

“It was more musical than the other piece,” said Tyler Bechtel, sophomore. “The gongs man! Makes your skull vibrate.”

The Gamelan is traditionally played at puppet shows, rituals, and ceremonies in the islands of Bali and Java where a common adage is ‘It’s not official until the gong is hung.’

The second piece was Cage’s imaginatively surreal creation that was originally written for a 1940’s radio broadcast.

“Very theatrical, like listening to a movie,” said Tyler Betchel, sophomore. “It was hard to find the correlation between scenes when the narrators were talking. It was as if he literally sat at an intersection in New York City and dictated every sound he heard.”

Some listeners let the sounds of the music take them to another place.

“I saw myself in New York City definitely,” said Annette Talbert, Jacksonville resident. “I tried to turn it into a radio show in my head and closed my eyes because it was distracting to watch the percussionists.”

Narrators Fidele Ishimwe and Sydney Baskin imitated over 20 diverse voices to lead the audience through scenes in the city, ocean and air.

“I was very impressed by the narrators,” said Agnes Moore, Jacksonville resident.

“It was awesome. There is a lot of talent and its great that young people are getting exposed to this type of music.”