Percussion Ensemble

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Last Thursday, November 29th, I had the opportunity to see a percussion ensemble directed by Galen Lemmon at San Jose State University's Concert Hall. Before the show, I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't sure that a percussion ensemble was going to be very interesting or not. Surely after the show, it was very interesting.

The first piece was Canticle No. 1 composed by Lou Harrison. This piece consisted of some hand-made percussion instruments such as some pottery and some bells. It reminded me of a soundtrack to a suspenseful movie because of the rattling of the "thunder-maker" instrument they had. The next piece was Clapping Music composed by Steve Reich. This was strictly done by, of course, clapping hands. The men and the women had separate parts. The women looped a sort of beat over and over while the men were sort of the melody to the whole piece.

This was a very head-nodding performance; very interesting. Starry Nights, Doggy Days for Mallet Quartet by Larry London was the piece that came after. It consisted of all mallet instruments such as the xylophones and vibraphones. It was their first piece to actually contain different notes and pitches which made it relaxing to hear. It was a three movement piece where the first movement was slow, then the next movement was faster, and the last movement went back to the regular tempo. After this piece came an extremely odd, but interesting piece called Prelude to the Skin Symphony & Skin Symphony composed by Bill Strauss and John Beck. About five people were seated around in a half-circle. They started out by literally making music slapping, ripping, tearing, and crumpling pieces of paper! Then they started making music with their hands and parts of their bodies. This is surely something I have never seen before. Bonham composed by Christopher Rouse was the ensemble's last performance. This piece, in my opinion, was the best. They used all kinds of drums, even the modern drum set was used including timpani drums, a gong, and a number of other different types of percussion instruments that I could not identify. The piece had some modernity to it because of its direct reference to Led Zeppelin. The modern appeal was heard through the sound of the modern drum set which was probably why I liked it so much. This surely was a grand ending and a great performance by the ensemble.

This was a surely enjoyable show. Even though it was a free show, I would have paid to see it. I recommend this concert to everyone because I brought a friend along to see the performance with me and he enjoyed the show as well.