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Nov 20, 2008

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Lawrence University

Kaleidoscope Concert captured

...continued from previous post from Mike... Then the lights came on, and out came a parade of people, the Sambistas of Lawrence, using the other original instrument of music, hands clapping in time. From hands, came sticks, and the line of players rhythmically and thunderously rapped casings of taut skins -AKA, drums - treble on the left, and directed by a student. Cool. Now that we had basic music established, fast forward 20,000 years and we heard American music theater, a whimsical 19th century Strauss opera piece, and punctuated in between, small wind and string ensembles, including sweet guitar music from Ararat, Armenia. I know what happened there, the first genocide of the 20th century. We also heard an Islam song called "Closer to the Fire", by Hafez - an Islamofascist?, No, a mystic, whose musical sounds showed a kinship with the music that started the concert, the women’s choir singing medieval hymns to Our Lady, "Quivi e la Rosa". The Fire and The Rose. Islam and Christianity. Music and Light: Interconnected in their essence. Coming in to land and to finish the evening off we had more hints of the nature of music: Alone and spot-lit on the main floor we saw a single player making magical sounds from a simply made, ancient, brightly painted hollowed out wooden tube; with its almost otherworldly percussive sound powered solely by human breaths, this, again, recalled "Knowee" . Then stitched somehow seamlessly to this folk instrument’s sounds, and hitched to those beats of breath, came Lawrence’s modern jazz ensemble in a concerto of sorts of the old and the new, nicely connected, and playing off of each other. THEN in a Finale as fine as I have ever heard in a concert, we experienced all at once the elements that we had been served the previous hour: a darkened theatre, solitary a cappella human voices – again, the original music instrument - singing with a slow soft cadence sweetly and patiently. Then we heard the ever-so-soft and equally patient reply from the strings of the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra in the opening of the "1812 Overture". The descending movement of swirling strings was simply delectable and held us to the edge of our seats. Although I have heard this many times before on 4th of July, I can say on that night of the Kaleidoscope concert, in an evening of many musical surprises, I have never heard the "1812" done with such a poetic dramatic sense. It was as if I were hearing it for the first time. When the metal artillery pieces – some kind of percussion instruments that were wheeled onto stage - discharged along with the furious strings, I felt that the 'invading armies of despotism' were being repelled. Recalling that single plaintive voice of a mother in the dark, that‘s when I understood what music is and what it can do: communicate from one heart to another. The Kaleidoscope concert was One heckuva concert full of musical competence, thought, heart and soul. Another point I could have made - that it LOOKED easy, always a sign of something good and well done, and done from the top down, as well as from the bottom up. That is, a good design and all the individuals --and in this there were a lot of individuals, musicians, stage people, lighting - doing their thing makes for a seamless product that 'works', and the kaleidoscope concert 'worked'.  (Nov 20, 2008 | post #3)