MUSIC REVIEW: Percussion Ensemble

By Peter Jacobi

 

All the sound softening panels hung low earlier on Sunday afternoon in Auer Hall for an IU Percussion Ensemble concert.

Good thing, for immediately, six drummers lined up stage front to pepper the air with rolling volleys of sound, sometimes in perfect unison, sometimes in counterpoint, but all carefully prepared to give IU alum Bruce Hamilton’s noisy yet compelling exercise, “Raptures of Undream,” a worthy reading.

As would be the case with the other four compositions on the program, “Raptures of Undream” was performed without benefit of conductor. Ensemble directors John Tafoya and Kevin Bobo were very much present but, on this occasion, did not conduct. The students led themselves, most successfully, meaning that not only were the musicians in the ensemble gifted as percussionists but as team players.

The stage had been set shrewdly so that delays between numbers were briefer than usual at these affairs. The program moved along smoothly, from Jonathan Leshnoff’s gentler “without a chance,” for three players on marimba and such, to Ivan Travino’s “Six,” a cleverly designed and complex-to-play mallet sextet. Paul Elwood’s “A Bowl of Light,” written for a quartet of very busy, move-around percussionists, gave way to another challenge for four, “Deep Carving,” by Jacobs School faculty composer Aaron Travers, inspired by carvings of the Northwest Coast First Nations people and creatively scored for unusual, mostly wood and skin, instruments.

The Percussion Ensemble boasts a dozen-and-a-half musicians. They’re all very good, and a very good show they gave Sunday’s audience.

 

© Herald Times 2014

 

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