An exciting night of percussion music at HSU

Humboldt State

HSU – Join the Humboldt State University Department of Music and directors by Eugene Novotney  and Howard Kaufman as they present the sights and sounds of the HSU Percussion Ensemble and HSU World Percussion Group on Saturday, April 13 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall.  Tickets are $10 general, $5 for children and $5 for HSU students with ID.

“The HSU Percussion Ensemble will feature a diverse program of material presenting the listener with contemporary and experimental percussion music of the 20th Century, and the World Percussion Group will present the folkloric dance-drumming of the Ewe Tradition of Ghana, West Africa,” said Novotney.




The featured contemporary work on the program is Akira Nishimura’s world-famous composition, Ketiak. Ketiak is scored for 13 percussionists playing 16 conga drums, eight pairs of bongos, eight pairs of Maracas, eight pairs of claves, six timpani, two vibraphones, and two sets of tubular bells. 

The piece is highly emotional and deeply moving, and is a tour-de-force in the percussion world. Nishimura’s original composition is based on the famous Balinese Ketjak, or Monkey Chant ritual, where 100 participants sit in a concentric circle and chant "tjak” in complex interlocking rhythm, while costumed characters play out the dramaturgy of the famous Ramayana. 

This virtuosic piece captures the deep emotion of the Monkey Chant in a dramatic percussive orchestration that pushes the traditional 13 player ensemble to the limits of their technique and musicality. This piece is rarely performed for audiences in the United States, and is an example of percussion music at its finest.

The Percussion Ensemble will also feature two compositions by the groups' director, Novotney, titled Scratch and Intentions. Both Scratch and Intentions were composed as experimental pieces that push the boundaries of the standard limitations of percussion instruments. 

Scratch is scored for four scrapers, and was inspired by a dream the composer had where he was having a severe allergic reaction, and scratching is entire body with rhythmic futility. 

Intentions is scored for triangles and tambourines, and was inspired by the desire to expose the wide variety of techniques possible on these instruments that are often neglected and underutilized. 

And as a special presentation, the program will also include a performance of Paul Smadbeck's classic marimba piece, Rhythm Song for Two Marimbas, performed by HSU percussion students Richard Rios and Makani Bright. 

The show will conclude with the World Percussion Group presenting the folkloric dance-drumming of the Ewe Tradition of Ghana, West Africa. The group will be featuring a complex arrangement of interlocking rhythms and dynamic interplay using all traditional and authentic instruments from Ghana.

"This show will be a spectacle for both the eyes and the ears, and will be a memorable experience for all in attendance! Come out and see percussion music at its best!"  Novotney said.













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