LUP gives illuminating performance

Sarah Page

The Lawrence University Percussion Ensemble filled the chapel with music Nov. 20. Although there wasn’t a large crowd, LUP’s full sound made an impression on the people who did attend.
Junior Michael Truesdell and a trio of students performed “Lamento e danza barbara” by German composer Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic. Truesdell performed Zivkovic’s “Uneven Souls” last year, and his precision and sensitivity compliment Zivkovic’s emotionally driven compositions. The trio and Truesdell were dead on with each beat of the concerto, which made for a memorable performance that was well received by those in attendance.
The third piece, “Perfectly Frank,” showcased the talent of guest artist and internationally recognized percussionist Michael Spiro on the congas. Spiro has made countless visits to Cuba to study Afro-Cuban drumming and has worked at a number of universities across America including the University of California, Berkeley. Spiro is a longtime friend of Lawrence percussion professor Dane Richeson and has made numerous visits to Appleton to work with students and lecture in Lawrence’s World Music Lecture Series. His undying passion for teaching Latin music to young adults has lent a notable energy to the percussion program at Lawrence.
Spiro also contributes greatly to the music scene where he lives in San Francisco. He has released his own album entitled “Bata Ketu,” performed with his group, Ara Meji, at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and is touring the world with his percussion trio Talking Drums.
Before his performance, Spiro explained to the audience that little music has been made for the congas. Only in the past 20 years or so has conga music really been composed, often in the salsa genre.
A band and a singer usually play the solo that Spiro performed. Thus, Spiro took on the role of a one-man band. In order to do so, Spiro had some of the instruments hooked up to foot pedals so he could use his hands for the drumming. During parts of the drum solo Spiro sang some of the vocal parts as well.
The final piece, under the direction of Spiro, was performed by the Sambistas. Richeson joined them for a barrage of rhythms from Ghana, Brazil, and Cuba. Students divided the stage into three parts: the left side of the stage was Ghana, the right side was Cuba and the back of the stage was the music of Brazil. The piece highlighted the influences that these three countries have on each other’s music and culminated in a high-energy ending to the performance.