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Published: Friday, 4/1/2005

BGSU conference celebrates music from around the world

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It's a mouthful, so let's get it out of the way right now:

Ethnomusicology.

That's the study of music and how it relates to culture, specifically songs and sounds from regions around the world, the country, the state, and the community, whether it's Appalachia, Bali, Harlem, Korea or southeastern Ohio.

And it's the centerpiece of a conference that kicks off tonight at Bowling Green State University with a celebration of rhythm for World Percussion Night. The event continues tomorrow and Sunday.

What used to be limited to "world music," i.e., music from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America, has been expanded to include virtually anything that rises out of local cultures.

"Ethnomusicology as a field has gone in all directions," said David Harnish, associate professor of ethnomusicology in the college of musical arts at BGSU. "Today, we don't look at just geographical areas."

Tonight's performance that starts the Midwest Chapter of the Society of Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting is World Percussion Night, a free event that starts at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center at BGSU.

It will include performances by Balinese Gamelan, UPD Korean drum dancers, and Afro-Caribbean Ensemble. The special guests for this concert include Habib Iddrisu on percussion and dance, Bernard Woma on Ghanaian xylophone, and Nyoman Cerita as Balinese mask dancer.

At least 30 students in various programs at the college will perform either as musicians or dancers, Harnish said.

He will be leading the drummers who accompany Cerita, a specialist in Balinese Gamelan drumming. They'll meet him at 6 p.m. and by 8 will be improvising rhythm arrangements on the fly, which is not easy, despite rehearsals on the basic musical concepts, Harnish said.

"The challenge is for me to figure out what he's doing and then communicate that to my drummers in a matter of seconds," he said. "We have to be ready to improvise with him on the spot, and if they're not following his drumming, then we're not going to be very together."

Cerita, who will be accompanied by 26 musicians and eight dancers, makes up stories that are then interpreted through dance, music, and rhythm.

Woma is the most accomplished xylophone player in Ghana, according to Harnish. He has been to Ohio before to perform, tell stories, and enjoy the fellowship of other musicians, he said. He also will give a workshop tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the Choral Rehearsal Hall in the music building.

In addition to tonight's concert, academics and performers from throughout the Midwest will be presenting papers on a variety of topics and performing. There will be workshops on African music and dance, Balinese dance, Tejano music, old-time music, and other music and dances.

Tomorrow, La Revancha will perform at Cohen & Cooke's, 109 South Main St., from 9 p.m. to midnight and there will be an old-time contra square-dance at the Wooster Street Community Center, 1124 East Wooster St., from 8 to 10:30 p.m.

The conference is free for all BGSU students, and the workshops are free for everyone.

The event will be held in the Moore Musical Arts Center building on campus and is sponsored in part by Pepsi-Cola, the Ethnic Culture Arts Program, the College of Musical Arts, and the Department of Musicology/Composition/Theory.

Contact Rod Lockwood at:rlockwood@theblade.com

or 419-724-6085.



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