Feel the beat at percussion, hand-drumming concert

Director Cheryl Grosso promises you’ll feel the beat of a variety of music at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Contemporary Percussion and Hand Drumming Ensembles on Friday, Dec. 5.

The UW-Green Bay percussionists and hand-drummers take the University Theatre stage inside Theatre Hall (2420 Nicolet Drive) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens, and are available online at www.uwgb.edu/tickets.

Grosso, a professor of music at UW-Green Bay, composed many of the hand-drumming songs. She also composed a quartet for contemporary percussionists called “Finding Peace.”

The song, she says, was inspired by the campus wide Common Theme, “Waging War, Waging Peace,” which is designed to encourage students, faculty, staff and community members to focus on a general theme from multiple perspectives and have a shared experience with open discussion and critical thinking.

“It’s my musical interpretation of coming to peace, not necessarily in terms of international war, (or) combat, but just coming to peace in many ways—peace in relationships, peace within yourself,” Grosso said of the song.

The performance also features one of the most major works for percussion ensembles, “First Construction in Metal,” by John Cage. The composition features standard percussion instruments along with some unconventional ones, including a water gong, large sheets of hanging sheet metal and more.

Audience members will also see and hear all seven members of the ensemble playing together on one marimba (a mellower version of the xylophone), a feat not to be missed.

The performance is one night, only.


Prof. Cheryl Grosso
Director, UW-Green Bay hand drum/percussion ensembles

On Dec. 5, the Contemporary Percussion Ensemble and Hand Drumming Ensemble will perform a concert in the University Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

It should be a great concert (with) lots of interesting music.

The Contemporary Percussion Ensemble plays the first half of the concert and the Hand Drumming Ensemble plays the second half of the concert.

The Contemporary Percussion Ensemble plays music by mostly major American composers. And, most of the music is written since World War II. Although, the first piece on the concert is called “First Construction in Metal,” it was written by John Cage in the early 1940s. It is one of the most major works for percussion ensembles.

The Hand Drumming Ensemble plays mostly compositions that I’ve written, that are influenced by the music of West Africa, and also Cuban music and some Brazilian music. We are playing a traditional Ewe piece. It was written by master drummer Sowah Mensah. And he wrote it so that it could be played on Western conga drums, which is how we’re going to play it. It’s called “Bor Bor Bor.” It has some interesting part relationships that you don’t typically find in some of the traditional music.

All of the other pieces that the hand drummers will be performing, I’ve composed. One of them, “Rhythm Chant 21,” is a new piece that I’ve composed just this semester.

This fall, I composed a new piece for the students in the Contemporary Ensemble. It’s a quartet and I was inspired by the Common Theme “Waging War, Waging Peace” that the campus is exploring this year. It’s called “Finding Peace,” and it’s my musical interpretation of coming to peace, not necessarily in terms of international war, combat, but just coming to peace in many ways—peace in relationships, peace within yourself. So parts are very interrelated. Thematically, it does have a little military flavor to it. But I wanted to contribute something to the University’s Common Theme, so we’ve been having a good time playing that. It’s written specifically for the four UWGB students that are performing it, taking into mind who they are.

I think the audience will enjoy seeing the University students perform. They give their all to these performances. The percussion students are extremely dedicated. They’ll have the opportunity to hear music that they don’t otherwise have an opportunity to hear, like the John Cage piece, certainly my compositions.

You know, we’re performing a couple other really interesting pieces. One piece has seven players at one instrument. That’s a very fun piece. And certainly, the hand drumming ensemble, that music based on the African and Afro-Cuban traditions is something that you can’t find many places. So that’s very exciting. I think audience members generally really relate to that portion of the concert.


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