Percussion Ensemble captivates the crowd: Special guest, alum, audience join in performance

Photo+taken+by+Lauren+Fox+19

Photo taken by Lauren Fox ’19

Courtney DeVita

A single strong drumbeat broke the silence, gradually moving to fast paced beats that sounded almost insistent – like a call to listen.

That’s how Fabian Rodgers ’17 opened Monday night’s Percussion Ensemble performance in the Williams Center for the Arts. Members of the ensemble were arranged in an arc, looking toward Rodgers who composed the piece.

Rogers played with an energy and passion that demanded attention. As he was scratching on the drums for one section in his solo, he opened his eyes briefly, looked toward the audience and gave a little pause and a laugh. The rest of the drummers joined in the music, tapping on the drums delicately, making a sound reminiscent of rain.

The song, titled “Fabian’s Djam,” ended in what seemed like an open space for drummers to improvise: drummers alternated playing solos over a continuing pattern, with this going on for roughly 10 minutes. It ended of course with Rogers playing a soulful solo.

The interactive atmosphere of the show was thoroughly enjoyable. In “Mo Java,” the audience learned a short clapping pattern prior to the start of the piece and were cued in at the end of the song. The song itself, flavorful and happy, was a needed contrast from the intense sounds of the opening song. The playful mood was a result of the range of percussive instruments employed, rather than just the drums of the first song.

One of the highlights of the show was only added this past Sunday after professor of music J. Larry Stockton watched Becca Adelman ’19 perform a solo on vibes during the choir concert. Stockton prefaced Adelman’s performance by stating that after hearing Adelman perform, he had to have her in the show. It was easy to see why. Adelman played a graceful rendition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” that was simply beautiful.

Following her performance, the program continued in the holiday spirit with “Holiday Moods,” another song requiring audience participation. The Percussion Ensemble alumni actually joined the mallet ensemble onstage, instructing the audience on when to jingle their car keys for the piece. The alumni later performed their own piece, “Strawberry Djam”—a song more technically exciting than jingling car keys. This piece had similar improvisational elements as the opener, with the alumni in a circle taking turns improvising over a drum pattern.

The concert itself was a unique blend of pieces from other different kinds of music, made all the better by standout performances from Rogers and funny commentary from Stockton.