Music from East Asia, Wesleyan University

7 12 2017

3 December 6, 2017

I had heard Asian music in Chinese restaurants. But it wasn’t until I attended a concert at Wesleyan many years ago that I realized (true confessions) that the tangy twang, minor-key sound was actually produced by unique different instruments then western instruments. This year’s Wesleyan concert included performances from three distinct Asian music classes.

11.03.17 Asian music orchestra

Director Ender Terwilliger introduced the instruments of the Chinese Music Ensemble and provided an opportunity to hear one’s sound and characteristic. For example, the number of strings on an instrument ranged from 2 to 108! The dizi (a type of flute) added an enticing, charming, and poignant sound that echoed, danced, and tied into musical patterns of the rest of the orchestra.

The Korean Drumming and Creative Music students provided less traditional music, directed by Jin Hi, Kim, who soloed on the electronic komungo (a zither; Jimi Hendrix would have felt at home with its sound).  Another soloist, Poorya Pakshir played the Iranian tonbak (a type of drum).  The inclusion of a dance, performed by Celine Tao, amidst the drummers highlighted and augmented the rhythm

11.03.17 TaikoThe first time I attended Taiko drumming, I was taken by surprise. Held in a small concert hall, 20 students stood in front of their drums and, at the appropriate time, whaled on them, to the point of startling everyone from their seats. It reminded me of sitting at the side of the parade, with bass drums vibrations cursing throughout your body, massaging and stirring each organ.

In this larger performance space, the sound fills the area but it’s slightly less dramatic. Over the years I’ve noticed that students and instructors have advanced to some really fine tuning and sophisticated drumming patterns. Director Barbara Merjan described some history and construction of the drums, which provided opportunity for additional appreciation.

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