Crisp sounds of objects colliding into rhythm filled Terry Concert Hall during the Percussion Ensemble Concert on Saturday, March 5. The unique show premiered works by alumni composers David Lane and Bob Moore.
The five percussionists maneuvered around a stage covered with instruments ranging from oversized xylophones to miniature gongs.
A romantic and spicy beachside tango was the first selection that the musicians banged out. “Camitan for Marimba Quartet” by Roberto Cordero is a traditional Mexican quartet that sounded like a fiesta.
“It was more rhythmic; like a dance,” said Jeff Clements, Jacksonville resident. “I liked how it played a tune that has a melody, even with just percussion.”
Bob Moore arranged four everyday catch phrases that the director, Tony Steve, assistant professor of contemporary & world music at Jacksonville University, uses into harmonious beats in “G.A.S.”
In the second movement of the piece, the verses of assorted shakers told the audience a story in “What’s Shakin’.”
The third movement of the piece, “Another day in Paradise,” was reminiscent of a fluent soundtrack in perfectly manicured neighborhood of a “Leave it to Beaver” type of sitcom.
“I don’t know Professor Steve but from listening to the music I got his vibe,” said Jennifer Clements, JU graduate student.
The distinct tones of the gamelon, which is an Indonesian drum, gong, metallophone, and xylophone ensemble, merged a 1950’s silent thriller in the next selection.
“It kind of tripped me out a little bit,” said Jesse Engel, Baldwin resident.
The black and white motion picture “The Way To Shadow Garden,” by Stan Brakhage depicted the vibrations of a 48-inch gong. The gamelon instruments were struck to create the sounds of a man’s psyche as he went from paranoid to panicked and from deranged to insane.
“I loved all of the film, even by itself,” said Jennifer Lane, JU alumnus. “It was an interesting juxtaposition to have the ethnic instruments to be used to accent that film.”
The instrumentalists improvised the piece to fit the mood of the film’s rising suspense and bloody ending. Percussionist Aaron Plotz explained how the song was played.
“Think of music as a language,” Plotz said. “We were all just putting in our input. It was kind of difficult because we had to look at the movie and the instrument at the same time.”
The last piece took listeners to a more peaceful setting with David Lane’s “Two Scenes In The Marketplace.”
“If I closed my eyes it almost felt like I was really in a market place in the morning time,” said Agnes Moore, Jacksonville resident. “One with cobble streets, peasants, and chickens hanging.”
After the show the audience had the opportunity to ask the composers about their inspiration for the pieces.
“It was very exciting and interesting,” said Silas Daniel, JU alumnus. “The idea of percussion instruments interplaying as music; they don’t create true pitch, but somehow the brain fills in the sounds.”