Percussion Groups Bring International Sounds

The Cal Poly Humboldt Percussion Ensemble and World Percussion Group will perform on Saturday, April 16 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

Cal Poly Humboldt Percussion Ensemble
Cal Poly Humboldt Percussion Ensemble

Directed by Music professor Eugene Novotney and Music instructor Howard Kaufman, the hall will come alive with the sounds of contemporary music for percussion and the exciting African rhythms of the Ewe tradition of Ghana. Concert tickets are $10 general, $5 child, and FREE for Cal Poly Humboldt students with ID and may be purchased at the door or in advance at centerarts.humboldt.edu

The Percussion Ensemble features the music of the award-winning contemporary composer Ivan Trevino. Born in 1983, Ivan Trevino is a Mexican American composer, percussionist, writer, and arts advocate. He is one of the most important composers for percussion to emerge in the 21st century, and many of his pieces are widely considered to be modern percussion masterworks.

"I am so excited to present the percussion works of Ivan Trevino to our Humboldt audience," says Novotney. "All of Trevino's compositions at this concert will be Cal Poly Humboldt premieres, and I predict that the audience will leave the show having heard sounds and textures that they never imagined possible. I was literally stunned when I first heard Trevino's works, and I knew that we had to play his music and share it for all to experience."

The Cal Poly Humboldt Percussion Ensemble features three of Trevino's most important compositions on their program: “Make a Joyful Noise,” “Shared Space,” and “2+1.” All these pieces feature pitched percussion instruments at their core. “Make a Joyful Noise” employs a large percussion orchestra consisting of marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones, bells, grand piano, and a multiple percussion setup. The ensemble textures are expertly crafted to create profound melodic and harmonic statements that are each rhythmically intense, and the overall sonic impact of the piece is engaging and profound. “Shared Space” features 12 percussionists sharing marimbas, vibraphones, and bells, and the soundscape created by the overtones of the layered melodies of the instruments is unbelievably captivating in their scope and resonance. “Shared Space” is one of the most beautiful works written for percussion ensemble to emerge in the 21st century, and is already considered to be a modern-day classic. “2+1" is a virtuosic duet for two marimba players playing one instrument facing each other from either side of the keyboard. This piece has become one of Trevino's landmark compositions because of its ingenuity and its sheer beauty. In this concert, “2+1" will be performed by graduating seniors Makani Bright and Travis Strong.

Also on the program is Christopher Rouse’s classic composition “Ku-Ka-Ilimoku.” In Hawaiian mythology, Ku is perhaps the most fundamental and important of the gods, occupying a place similar to that of Zeus in Greek mythology or Odin in Norse legend. Traditional Hawaiian percussive chants are used as the primary rhythmic material throughout, and the piece uses a wealth of subtle rhythmic inflection and variation to create powerful and exhilarating work.

The concert ends with a performance of traditional West African drumming presented by the World Percussion Group, directed by Kaufman. The group will be playing “Kinka,” a piece of infectious social music traditionally played by the Anlo-Ewe people of South-Eastern Ghana. “Kinka” inspires some great dancing and challenges listeners with its funky polyrhythms and cross patterns. It will be played on a full collection of traditional Ewe instruments.

"The students have been working extremely hard to prepare for this show, and I am so proud of their achievements,” says Novotney. “Their artistry will be on full display at this concert. We love playing in Fulkerson Hall for the Humboldt audience, and our groups will be giving you our very best!"

To purchase tickets: From the "All Events" drop-down menu select "School of Dance, Music, and Theatre" and select your event. Proof of COVID vaccination and booster is still required for all guests on campus. At press time, the wearing of facemasks is not mandatory, but it is strongly encouraged. If attending the concert in person is not an option, a free Livestream can be viewed at https://youtu.be/2V7Dg8h83t8.

For more information, contact Cal Poly Humboldt School of Dance, Music, and Theatre, 707-826-3566, mus@humboldt.edu.