30 October 2005

Defying Gravity

ABC fm hosted a free concert by this 14-member WAAPA percussion ensemble at Government House this afternoon, so we trotted along for a listen (11 people in our group, 5 of them adults). It was excellent, highly recommended.

The first piece, here is the shell that was never ours but remembers, [yes, the capitalisation is correct] was a little spooky but every piece was interesting throughout.

Pia will be pleased to note that the most impressive players overall (IMESHO) were the second and third shortest girls, and the single most impressive performer was also femme (she played a fast-paced Brasilian composition on a Glockenspeil(?) with five (5) sticks at once, including special effects produced by whacking the ends of the bars with the “neck” of some of the sticks).

The array of instruments they featured was pretty awe-inspiring, from drums the size of a matchbox up to massive kettle-drums that sounded like thunder, via tubular bells, tiny chimes made out of “piano pins”, angklungs, rainmakers, saucepan lids and wind-chimes.

Three people playing a vibraphone at once made for interesting gymnastics (one lass of the trio also played for a bit with the “wrong” end of the sticks), and another variant with the third player on a wooden glockenspeil playing from “above” the keyboard (ever tried typing like that? «brain explodes») produced an beautiful and vaguely African-sounding effect. One other instrument which impressed me started out on Peru as a fruit-packing crate and has been modified to produce a broad range of sounds from a flat slap to a deep, booming bass; you sit on the box and tilt it back to play it by slapping one side.

Another impressive feature of the event was nephew Caleb (4yo) sleeping through the piece Fire, originally composed for the Olympics. It was very energetic, fast-paced and LOUD, roughly the same intensity as a brisk exchange of infantry fire.

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