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Asian Fusion Plays Convo

April 25, 2008 at 8:14 pm
By Margaret Taylor '10

A stunning performance was missed by the Carls who caught a few zzz’s instead of attending last week’s convocation. Luckily, the Music professor and her multicultural band “Asian Fusion” gave an encore performance in the concert hall later that night.

The stage at the concert hall was packed with instruments from China, India, Japan, as well as the West.

Kenny Endo opened with “Moonwind” on the Japanese taiko, a drum about three feet in diameter, so large it has to be held up at arm level with a special stand. Shubhendra Rao played the sitar, a peculiar-looking Indian string instrument with a resonating chamber like a gourd attached to its neck. Biplab Bhattacharya accompanied them on the tabla, a pair of drums that are also from India, and Michelle Kinney played the cello.

Gao Hong played the pipa, a traditional Chinese instrument that’s a pear-shaped, banjo-like member of the lute family (though it looks quite different from the sitar and veena).

One of the highlights of the concert was “Courage,” composed by Hong in 2007. Hong’s daughter, Alida, was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2005 and had to undergo chemotherapy for over two years. During this time, Alida spent extended periods of time at the hospital away from her family. “Courage” incorporates themes from a Chinese lullaby Hong recorded for Alida to listen to while she was away at the hospital as well as a call-and-response game Alida would play with her grandparents during her treatment. It tells the story of Alida’s courage in going through such a difficult time.

The concert brought many guest performers onto the stage, including Nicola Melville on the piano, and Carleton music professor David Hagedorn on the percussion. Music major Bill Panks ‘08, accompanied the band with his violin, and Northfield high school student Joseph Schad, played the piano.

For the finale at the end, Hong brought everybody in her band onto the stage to play “Celebration.” This was the world premiere of the piece, composed to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors.