Japanese, Indonesian, Indian, Brazilian and West African harmonies brought students, alumni, faculty, children and community members together during the music department's Global Sounds Concert on Sunday, Nov. 23.
Using wooden sticks known as bachi, the Kids' Rokudan Uchi group pounded taiko drums more than half their size in the first performance of the concert.
The African Drumming Ensemble also performed drumming rhythms for the audience. Members executed a traditional rhythm, Soli Lent, which usually accompanies rituals of the Malinke and Manian people of Guinea, a West African country. The majority of people in the class are not formally studying music. Led by Roderick Davis, the group is open to both Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond students at no extra fee.
"The hardest part was probably teaching polyrhythms where everyone is performing at the same time but they are all playing something different," Davis said.
Polyrhythmic sounds reappeared from bells, gongs and metallophones in the percussion performance by the Gamelan Raga Kusuma, a community performance group. At the same time, two Balinese dancers elevated and lowered their bodies in a dance depicting the legend of the king of Lasem, a medieval Javanese kingdom throughout the performance.
Junior Mercy DelaMerced played taiko for the first time last semester in Andy McGraw's Global Repertoires class. Students learned West African drumming, Balinese gamelan pieces and taiko drum ensembles in the course. DelaMerced now plays for the UR Taiko Ensemble group, which also performed.
"After taking Global Repertoires and exploring three cultures, I found a particular interest in taiko and decided to join," DelaMerced said. "I'm glad I took the class."
Alumna Miki Doan, who lives in Richmond, came back to campus to see the "Remnants" play and attend the concert. Doan had participated in the campus Taiko group when she was a student.
"There's kind of that little connection between you and the performers when you hear them play pieces you had learned and played," Doan said.
Professor Kevin Harding also leads the Brazilian Ensemble, a musical group on campus. The group performed five different pieces equipped with an accordion, tambourine, drum and guitar. Vocalists Felicia Taylor and Gwen Setterburg performed six songs in Portuguese, which was also part of the ensemble.
Jonah Fogel, a Richmond resident, attended the concert with his wife and two children for the second time.
"Henry is the drummer in the family," Fogel said. Six-year-old Henry Fogel said his favorite group was the Indian one.
After the performances, all attendees were invited to an "instrument petting zoo," where they could play some of the instruments featured in the concert.
Contact reporter Eunice Brumskine at email@example.com