Performance Review: Percussion Ensemble delivers unique, exceptional performance

Thunderous booms and resounding crashes echoed out of Williams Center on Monday night as the Lafayette College Percussion Ensemble delivered yet another successful performance.

Professor J. Larry Stockton, head of the music department and specialist in traditional Japanese music, has clearly hit his stride once again in his direction of the group.

The ensemble is entirely composed of students and rehearses diligently throughout the semester, culminating with a big performance in December.

This concert also included special guests, several of whom were alumni percussion practitioners returning for the number “Alumni Djam / African Sun Walk.”

The Percussion Ensemble performance kicked off with “Djembe Djam MMXVIII,” which is performed every semester, featuring the entire company and consisting of an introductory solo by the skilled master drummer, Jacob Miller ’20, followed by everyone chiming in on the djembe drums, eventually transitioning to individual solos.

The second piece, “Away Without Leave,” prominently featured several snare drums and was lead by Eric Last ’20.

Last said that “Away Without Leave” is a tricky piece to begin with, being that it is meant to be a five-person piece, with only four people in charge of it. “It’s a very military piece. The rudiments are tough, and if you were watching the sticking, we paid a lot of attention to that, and accents and flams and stuff like that, so it took a lot of work, and a lot of dedication, and we spent a lot of time in rehearsal on that,” he said.

The piece certainly didn’t disappoint, providing an intriguing beginning to an exceptional concert. The drummers’ work on the snares was impeccable.

Other notable pieces included “Fractalia,” performed by a quartet composed of Becca Adelman ’19, Sophia Rinaldi ’19, Leah Shteynman ’19 and Corey Beck ’22. Most of the work was done on xylophones, and it delighted the audience. It was astonishing how quickly and accurately the quartet played, showcasing both their innate ability and the immense amount of work that went into it.

“Magical Mystery Theater” was a bizarre, yet hilarious, interlude wherein the ensemble play-acted an entire radio show, featuring a perfectly uncanny radio voice narration by Kyle Street ’19, as well as several chicken noises.

The tradition of having an audience participation song was upheld, as the entire audience was directed to remove their keys from their pockets to partake in the eternal Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.” What was not readily apparent was that Last had undertaken the task of arranging the piece entirely himself less than two weeks before the concert.

Stockton truly demonstrated his passion and expertise in the realm of Japanese music with his direction of the closing number “Komorebi / Raijin,” which included the largest and loudest drums of the entire concert.

Overall the percussion ensemble showed once again what it means to put in hours and hours of hard work over a whole semester to produce something truly grand.

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