Purdue percussion goes to the classics and beyond for Spring Fest
Comedy, check. Craziness, always. But classical? The Purdue Percussion Theater, which has gained a reputation for its lively fun-loving spring concerts, is putting a "classical face" on its Sunday, April 14, concert "From Bach to Rock."
The annual event is set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Loeb Playhouse of the Purdue Stewart Center. Part of Spring Fest weekend at Purdue University, admission to the concert is free.
Purdue's percussion specialist Pam Nave goes for bold pieces that are all-time classics as well as pieces that are competing to be classics of the 21st century.
There's Felix Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" and Percy Grainger's "Molly on the Shore" on the all-time classic team.
But a bit of ragtime sneaks in with Victor Moulton's "That Dixie Rag" which features Rob St. Claire as xylophone soloist. And there's comic relief in Vince Quaraldi's "Linus and Lucy" inspired by the famous Peanuts cartoon characters.
Nave is known for her impressive opening numbers and Sunday's concert opens with "Pogo Sticks," a drum piece created by Wayne Lytle of Animusic, an American company specializing in the 3D visualization of MIDI-based music.
Scattered throughout the all-time classics are such contemporary pieces as Jamieson Carr's "Shock and Awe," Lalo Davila and Scott Johnson's "Scojo Madness" and Dave Hall's "Apocalyptic Etude."
"ScoJo Madness" incorporates the drumming style of Blue Devils' head drum instructor Scott Johnson into a Latin ensemble piece. The Blue Devils, a Drum Corps International competitor from California, have won the world championship 15 times. Designed for five drummers, the piece uses marching snare, bongos, congas, timbale, drum set and bongo bell.
"Shock and Awe" is full of dissonant textures. Explaining the choice of former president George W. Bush's descriptor for the Iraqi war campaign as his title, Carr says: "The basis of this idea was to use overwhelming power, dominant battlefield maneuvers, and spectacular displays of force to paralyze an enemy and destroy their will to fight. This militaristic term is the inspiration for the piece."
"Apocalyptic Etude" will put Nicholas Pogranichniy in the spotlight as a marimba soloist. Full of dark harmonies, Dave Hall says his piece was "inspired by a combination of composers, most notably Beethoven, Chopin, Thelonious Monk, and Wayne Shorter."
Sunday's concert ends with the Latin rhythms of Karnack, a Sao Paulo-based Brazilian band that has won two MTV awards. "Universo Umbigo" is the title tune of their second CD. The album and the tune retain their signature mix of styles - rock, Portuguese vira, flamenco, baião, Northeastern xaxado, exotic scales with Arab touches, maracatu, reggae and others.
"From Bach to Rock" is sponsored by Purdue Bands & Orchestras.