Drums, cymbals, tin cans, xylophones and other things that go bump in the night are coming to Graceland. So Percussion will perform in the Shaw Family Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, Nov. 4. There are no advance ticket sales or reserved seats. The box office opens at 6:45 p.m.
The concert will provide a unique opportunity for the Lamoni campus and community to experience a different music genre. So Percussion, now based in Brooklyn, New York, was founded by four graduates in the Yale School of Music who wanted to promote contemporary composition for percussion instruments. The group is also well known for its use of unusual and exotic instruments, including conch shell, bowed marimba, aluminum pipes and an amplified cactus.
Their repertoire includes works from contemporary composers alongside pieces and improvisations of their own. A review in the New Yorker Magazine praised their “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam,” and Billboard Magazine raved that “the range of colors and voices that So Percussion coaxes from its menagerie is astonishing and entrancing.” So Percussion’s career now encompasses 16 albums, touring throughout the U.S. and around the world, a dizzying array of collaborative projects, several ambitious educational programs, and a steady output of their own music.
According to their website, So Percussion is heavily involved in mentoring young musicians. In 2009, they created the annual So Percussion Summer Institute on the campus of Princeton University. The Institute is an intensive two-week chamber music seminar for college-age percussionists featuring the four members of So as faculty in rehearsal, performance and discussion of contemporary music for students from around the world.
Graceland has experienced a new interest in percussion with the hiring of Dr. Adam Groh, who now leads the Graceland Drumline and chairs the Division of Visual and Performing Arts. Groh is excited about So Percussion’s Graceland event. “So is one of the premiere musical ensembles anywhere in the world, as comfortable on stage at Carnegie Hall (where they’ve played on numerous occasions) as they are at the indie music festival Bonnaroo. They are true virtuoso performers, and their music is creative and engaging. We are so excited about this opportunity to have them interact with students all across the Graceland campus, as well as the Lamoni and south central Iowa community!”
“Although percussionists are going to be ecstatic over this performance, anyone who is into improvisation – the very heart of jazz – is likewise going to be amazed at how this wonderful and unconventional group displays improvisation at a level you’ve likely never encountered before!” says Dr. Lee Bash, director of the Yellowjacket Jazz Band.
Event promoters promise that the experience will be different than anything that has recently appeared on the Graceland stage. The ensemble revels in creative rhythms and instruments to open new windows in the imagination.
Examples of So Percussion’s performance, and more information about their work, can be found on their website at www.sopercussion.com.