As part of International Week events on campus, students in the Don Wright Faculty of Music are offering special performances to end celebrations on a high note this Friday.
Tabla performer, Toronto Tabla Ensemble founder and artistic director Ritesh Das will join Western’s Percussion Ensemble for a special program as part of the faculty’s Fridays at 12:30 concert series. This will be followed by a Voice Fridays production of Songs of Many Lands.
International Week Celebration with Western’s Percussion Ensemble
Friday, Nov. 25, 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Paul Davenport Theatre, Talbot College (with livestream performance for 12:30 show)
Performing international music in a Western institution isn’t as straightforward as some may think.
“You can’t just pull the music off the shelf, read it and play it,” said ensemble director and percussion professor Jill Ball. “There is a lot of extra planning and work.”
For example, to acknowledge and honour Ukraine, choral and piano pieces needed to be adapted to be played on marimbas.
“That’s been an interesting hybrid process of East meeting West, involving a lot of conversations,” Ball said.
“Ritesh’s song Summer 2020 was written for tabla, flute and Kathak, an Indian classical dance form. Our challenge was to take that idea and make it work for our instrumentation.”
Because the tabla are soft sounding instruments, it was difficult to adapt the music to be played by a full percussion ensemble.
“What we were reading in our traditional way wasn’t aligning with what Ritesh was saying,” Ball said. “It was almost like reading a page in a book with no punctuation. We were having a conversation, but to get anything out of a conversation, you really have to listen. Instead of using our way of reading music and interpreting it in one way, once we began listening to his singing, we began to understand his musical ideas.”
Soon, it all started coming together, as the video below shows.
Songs of Many Lands
Friday, Nov. 25, 1:30 p.m.
von Kuster Hall, Music Building and on livestream
Immediately following the percussion ensemble concert, in von Kuster Hall, the faculty will present Songs of Many Lands, featuring music from across the globe.
Performances will be given by students from Finland, Italy, Canada, Germany, China, Brazil, Korea, the U.S., Italy, Greece, Russia and Colombia.
While the music takes the audience around the world, voice professor Patricia Green said the concert offers a deep and meaningful way for her students to connect with their cultures.
“When International Week was created at Western, it seemed to me a perfect opportunity for the many singers at the Don Wright Faculty of Music from varied cultures and countries to represent their heritage in song,” Green said. “It’s been a deeply satisfying experience to create and hear the concert each year.”
For Karla Maria Guerrero, a Canadian of Colombian heritage, singing in her mother tongue is significant.
“I feel like I’m sharing a little bit of my heart and culture with the audience,” she said. “I’m proud of where my family comes from and the opportunity to share that with others means the world to me.”
Dayesi Kim, an international student from Korea sees the concert as “not only an artistic performance that introduces my musical background, but also as a moment to unite various cultural and racial boundaries.”
All performances are free and are open to all students, faculty, staff and the public.