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BC Ensembles Heat Up Grey Auditorium

Four of Berea College's distinguished music ensembles warmed audiences with music filled with heat, passion and a lot of percussion during their annual fall concert.

The Wind and Jazz Ensembles give their fall concert.

The Clarinet Choir opened up the "Pollywog's Lake Talk." The song featured Gaelyn Rotty, Pryia Thoresen, and Brandi Wong on clarinet, and Erin Barger on the alto saxophone. The full Chamber Wind Ensemble came out and played five movements from Bill Whelan's "Riverdance," which won a Grammy Award. Soloists for this piece included Erin Barger, Jacob Hamrick and Tripp Bratton.

The Wind Ensemble played a longer set than its predecessors. First up was "Confession: Mvt. II, Symphony of Prayer" by J. Eric Schmidt. Conductor Dr. Charles Turner prefaced the piece by saying, "It's dark and it's moody and I like it." The movement was just that, containing a dark and menacing opening section that was meant to serves as a musical mirror of the world today. The Wind Ensemble also performed the "Theme from E.T.," written by John Williams. Many in the audience enjoyed the music from the classic film. The group's final piece was "Metroplex: Three Postcards from Manhattan," written by Robert Sheldon. This piece provided a musical portrait of Manhattan's cityscape for it's listeners. Soloists in this piece included Erin Barger and Mark Crabeels.

Jazz Ensemble took the stage after a short intermission that provided time for a new stage setup. The ensemble's first piece, a staple of the group's performances, was the old favorite "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," written by Hugie Prince. Next came the newer piece, "Afro Blue," written by Mongo Santamaria and made popular by John Coltrane. Next came the Grammy-winning song "Don't Know Why," originally sung by Norah Jones. Jessica French gave a strong performance of the song, belting out notes high and low alike. French was also featured on the next song, the classic "Someone To Watch Over Me" by George Gershwin. Erin Barger gave a solo performance on Johnny Green's "Body and Soul," providing a toned-down, slow and soulful melody for the audience.

"Soul Man," written by Isaac Hayes got the ball rolling again with it's fast, exciting and familiar melody. The Jazz Ensemble ended their performance with a fast-growing favorite: "Smooth," by Santana and Rob Thomas. The piece also featured Paul Rowland on the guitar.

Instead of ending the program with the jazz band, as they typically do, a different group was brought onstage. The newer BC Fusion Band, led by Tripp Bratton, took the stage setting up percussion instruments, guitars and mallet instruments. "I've been here a long time," said Bratton to the curious crowd, "and I've always dreamed of having a mallet ensemble." Mallet instruments include the well known xylophone, vibraphone, and glockenspiel. These instruments are stuck by mallets, and produce a different tone or note on each key.

The first piece performed was "Hurricane Camille," by the performance artist Bela Fleck. The keys on the mallet instruments vibrated and jumped with the relentless pounding. Their final piece was a Brazilian song titled "Recordame." Instead of playing the traditional version, however, the group inserted an original "jam session" in the middle of the song. This highlighted each of the players talents, and gave Derek Isaacs, a senior, the chance to say goodbye to Berea College his own way--via guitar. The audience response was positive, albeit loud, so Bratton and the group played a brief encore for their new found fans.

The next music department performance will be "A Celebration of Christmas Music," on December 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Union Church.

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