Percussion Ensemble holds eclectic, energized concert

From left to right, Dulce Cortes, Shannon Brush, Jarod Barnes, Dr. Tom Morgan, Will Hartner, and Nico Williams. The group is mainly comprised of music and mass media majors.

Andrew Shermoen

The sheer number of drums and other percussion instruments make for almost endless combinations of different styles of music. The Washburn University Percussion ensemble held a concert on Monday, March 28, where they presented some of the talent from the Washburn music department, but also were able to showcase some of the percussion composers who do not get enough credit.

The concert began with Fred Emory Smith’s “Suite No. 1,” which features several different percussion instruments, including timpani, marimba and chimes. An excitable and fast-paced piece that reminds one of marching into battle.

The ensemble then played an adaptation of Claudio Monteverdi’s “Lasciatemi Morire” from his opera “L’Arianna;” it was played entirely with marimbas. The only remaining part of this lost opera is called “Lamento d’Arianna,” an extended recitative across eight scenes that depicts the story of Ariadne from Greek mythology. In Ovid’s “Heroides” Ariadne is abandoned by her husband Theseus after she helped him slay the Minotaur and escape the Labyrinth. She later is granted immortality when she marries Dionysus. “Lasciatemi Morire” is one of the most well-known songs from the lost opera that depicts a scene where Ariadne contemplates her mortality and plans to kill herself out of grief. She chants the words “let me die” and the music depicts intense pain and sadness to match with the grief the young woman is feeling.

“Hemispheres” by Kevin Bobo was definitely the most intriguing of the songs played at the concert. It utilizes several different traditional percussion instruments playing very strange rhythms accompanied by a large selection of everyday items used as instruments such as pipes and salad bowls. There was also a kazoo solo by Will Hartner, mass media major, who performs in the ensemble.

Nathan Daughtrey’s “Lost Souls” gave an attitude of searching and inquisitiveness, but one of despair, loneliness, and loss to accompany it. It also cleverly used dissonance and competing rhythms to convey its tone even further.

The ensemble ended with another Nathan Daughtrey piece entitled “Unleash the Fury.” A marimba quartet piece that invokes the emotions of despair and sadness. A difficult piece that requires discipline and rhythmic knowledge from every single musician, the ensemble pulled it off with flying colors.

The Percussion Ensemble Festival Concert will begin on Wednesday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in White Concert Hall. It will feature Washburn’s ensemble as well as those from Seaman High School and Washburn Rural High School.