Bates and Bowdoin bands bring Caribbean music to the stage

An evening of island music from all over features performances by two Bates bands — the Indonesian-style Gamelan Mawar Mekar and the Steel Pan Rhythm Riders — and their special guests, the Bowdoin College World Music Ensemble, at 8 p.m. Friday, April 4, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell Street. The concert is free and open to the public.

Bates gamelan director Rose Pruiksma describes the concert as “an extravaganza of percussion music.” She says, “Showcasing the diversity of musical styles available to students at both institutions, the concert provides a great opportunity for intercollegiate interaction as well as a evening of great music.”

A hypnotic, long-form style, gamelan is the traditional court music of Java and Bali, played by an ensemble using gongs, drums and xylophones. Bates’ Gamelan Mawar Mekar (“blossom of inspiration”) is in its third year of existence. The concert, Pruiksma says, will highlight the playing of Jesse Fox, a senior from Potomac, Md., who is a founding member of the ensemble and plays a type of xylophone called a “génder” (pronounced “ghen-dare”).

The Steel Pan Rhythm Riders play Caribbean calypso as well as jazz and other genres. The steel band was founded and is directed by assistant professor of music Linda Williams.

For the April 4 event the steel band will concentrate on major Trinidadian composers Lord Kitchener, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe and David Rudder, Williams explains. She adds, “We especially acknowledge Sharpe’s tune ‘Woman is Boss,’ because 16 of the 17 members of the band are female students. That’s a rare departure from previous years.”

Directed by well-known Maine percussionist Michael Wingfield, the Bowdoin College World Music Ensemble will also play Caribbean music.

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