Worth Getting up for Sat. AM Drum Concert

(at R) Guest soloist Naoko Takada Sharp plays the marimba with enthusiasm

By Marcia E. Gawecki

If tonight’s concert was any indication, it would be worth getting up  early this Saturday morning, August 7, to hear the the Symphonic Percussion Ensemble at Idyllwild Arts. Although they are teenage musicians, their eight short songs sound, at times, like Buddy Rich on caffeine, the Blue Man Group, and various African drum circles. The fast-paced concert will wow your socks off and leave you panting for more. It’s worth staying for the last song that features guest soloist Naoko Takada Sharp, a world-class marimba player.

Throughout the concert Thursday night, these young players showcased the various instruments that make up the percussion part of an orchestra, including the marimba, xylophone, timpani, snare drums, bass drums,  chimes, cymbals, and even a gong. Some songs were kinetic, moody, upbeat and frenzied, while others were soothing and classical. But one thing’s for certain, drummers are the hardest working members of an orchestra or wind ensemble, and it was nice to see them singled out to “strut their stuff.”

The hour-long concert included six group songs and two short solo pieces. The songs included: “A la Strata” by M. Peter; “Debussy Day at the Fair,” by C. Debussy; “Triplets” by G.H. Green; “4 1/4 for Four” by A. Cirone; “Matrix” by S. Grimo and “Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble” by Ney Rosauro.

The second song, “Debussy Day at the Fair,” was classical and enjoyable, showcasing the talents of the senior percussionists on marimbas and xylophones. The next song, a modern one, “Triplets,” showcased six music students, two sets of playing on a xylophone and marimba at the same time, while a soloist lead them in the lively, upbeat song.

The group plays "4 1/4 for Four"

The next song, “4 1/4 for Four” is as complex as its title suggests. It featured four students playing the snare drums, the timpani (kettle drums), a bass drum set and the bongos with sticks. This song sounded  like the Blue Man Group, playing loudly, boldly and in unison. It brought out one of the Idyllwild Arts drum directors, Robin Sharp, who lead the group to a splashy, and perfectly-timed ending.

My favorite was “Matrix,” for its frenzied, frenetic complexity, and ability of the players to showcase about 15 different percussion instruments, sometimes all at once, that I couldn’t even begin to name. Chimes, cymbals, a gourd rattle, a triangle, snare drums, a marimba, a xylophone, a large gong and other instruments made horse clomping sounds, popcorn popping sounds, church bells chimes, and melded them all together into a truly enjoyable song. It also brought out the other modest, but talented drum director from Idyllwild Arts, Bill Schlitt.

Dylan playing marimba showed that he learned from the Master class

Dylan and Lauren, two students who participated in a Master Class with Naoko Takada Sharp, from last Thursday night, got to show off what they learned in two short solos, including “Etude in C Major” by C. Musser, and “Mexican Dance No. 2” by G. Stout.

Yet, it was the last song that made the show definitely worth seeing because the Master Class teacher was also the featured soloist. “Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble” by Ney Rosauro, a brilliant Brazilian composer, may have a boring title, but it leaves you on the edge of your seat. Mostly because it’s played with the unbridled energy of Ms. Takada Sharp, who, with double mallets in each hand, moved across the marimba keyboard with the intensity of a hummingbird in flight. Both arms were a blur throughout the entire song. It was even difficult to even get a photo of her because she didn’t stop moving for a second!

Una (at R) was in awe of Ms. Takada's playing on the marimba (L)

Her passion for the marimba showed in her facial and body expressions. She was the hardest working marimba player during that song.  Afterwards, the young students playing alongside her, congratulated her, took pictures, and stood smiling and in awe.

“She plays simply amazing,” said Una, a percussionist from Taiwan, who also attended Idyllwild Arts Academy for two years.

“I sounded good because you were my backup,” Ms. Takada Sharp answered.

“I hit one wrong note,” Una confessed, but the Master teacher said that it didn’t matter.

The 15 student percussionists take the stage for a final bow

The next Symphonic Percussion Ensemble Concert, with Ms. Takada as soloist, will be held at 9 a.m. this Saturday, August 7, at Ataloa (next to the Parks Exhibition Center) on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright Idyllwild Me 2010. All rights reserved.

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the attachments to this post:

(at R) Guest soloist Naoko Takada Sharp plays the marimba with enthusiasm
Drum Teach Solo 2

Una (at R) was in awe of Ms. Takada's playing on the marimba (L)
Drum Teach Una

The group plays "4 1/4 for Four"
Drum 4 1:2

The 15 student percussionists take the stage for a final bow
Drum Group Bow

Dylan playing marimba showed that he learned from the Master class
Drum Solo Boy

Dylan playing his solo on the marimba
Drum Solo Boy

(from R) Guest soloist Naoko Takada Sharp plays the miramba with enthusiasm
Drum Teach Solo 2

(from L) guest soloist Naoko Takada Sharp wows the crowd on miramba
Drum Group Teach

(from L) guest soloist Naoko Takada Sharp plays mirama with kinetic energy
Drum Teach Una

Guest soloist Naoko Takada Sharp on miramba
Drum Teach Solo


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