Multiple cultures to be shared through music

Cultures will mix musically on the Dvorak stage with a combination concert by the Eastern percussion and choral ensembles.

The Multicultural Concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the Dvorak Concert Hall of the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

The concert is an opportunity for the performers to use their voices and instruments to represent the music native to different cultures.

Janet McCumber, a music professor and conductor of the University Mixed Chorus, said the choir ensembles will perform music by American, Canadian, Czech and Brazilian composers.

“There is a wealth of music in print from various cultures,” McCumber said. “It’s very easy to find quality literature that is a good representation of any particular culture’s music.”

Both groups had to overcome the challenge of replicating the sounds of a new culture.

Jamie Ryan, a music professor and the director of the EIU Percussion Ensemble, said although the concert has a laid back feeling about it, students put forth a lot of effort to master each song.

“The level of sophistication needed to perform music from outside one’s own culture is high,” Ryan said.

He said the key to doing this is to learn to perform like a native of each culture to achieve a natural sound.

McCumber agreed with Ryan’s statement.

“The best we can hope for is a respectful interpretation that honors the traditions and techniques of the culture,” McCumber said.

McCumber said this performance strays from the traditional, history-inspired concerts by focusing on music from all around the world. It is also the only concert that combines the choral and percussion ensembles.

Ryan said the percussion ensemble will represent a variety of cultures with an emphasis on Cuban music.

“The percussionists also sing as much as they play for the Afro-Cuban repertoire, using their voices as a powerful, pitched layer of rhythmic expression,” Ryan said.

He said the ensemble will utilize instruments such as wooden box drums, the marimba, and a xylophone to represent a wide range of cultures throughout the concert.

McCumber said the ensembles have prepared a show they hope the audience will be both visually and musically enjoyable.

“They will see and hear traditional Afro-Cuban music, both sacred and secular, which is a feast for the eyes as well as the ears,” McCumber said. “Some really fantastic drumming of various cultures; some non-traditional vocal techniques; and a rainstorm right in Dvorak Concert Hall,” McCumber said.

She encourages students to come, no matter their cultural background or taste in music.

“The world is getting smaller and smaller and it’s important for all of us to reach out to and try to understand other cultures,” McCumber said. “In many ways, they’re not that different from our culture and music is a great way to do that.”

Katie Smith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].