Keene State College students and faculty perform “Inuksuit”

If some students happened to be walking along the sidewalk between Brickyard Pond and the Redfern Arts Center on Friday, May 2 at 2 p.m., some may have noticed something out of the ordinary.  

A line of drummers, cymbal players, trumpet players and other students holding various instruments aligned across the sidewalk.

To inform students who were wondering what all these musicians were doing playing outside, it was actually the Keene State College Percussion Ensemble’s staging of John Luther Adams’ “Inuksuit.”

“Inuksuit” is an outdoor percussion performance that combines man-made sounds in a natural atmosphere.

Echoing through the archways of the Redfern were the brassy bellows of cymbals and drums and the birdlike melody of a piccolo, a flute and chimes.

Other unexpected noisemakers used in the performance were a conch shell, a sound hose and a hand-held siren.  A trombone, a timpani and a variety horns were also played.

Bree Kraus / Equinox Staff: A student uses a conch shell to make music while performing with Keene State Colleges Percussion Ensemble.

Bree Kraus / Equinox Staff:
A student uses a conch shell to make music while performing with Keene State Colleges Percussion Ensemble.

The sound resonated across the pond reaching onlookers in front of the Pondside II apartments and stopped people in their tracks who were just walking through.  Before long, a crowd formed to watch the performance.

Audience member Jessica Boushie, an undeclared studio art major and sophomore at KSC, thought the performance was, “Amazing, I loved their music. Having been never really exposed to music like this before, Keene State and the music department gives me that opportunity,” Boushie said.

She also said she liked the performance being outside because, “It complimented the music; if it was inside it would have been too contained.”

Piccolo player Ariel Hamilton, a music education major and transfer student expecting to graduate in 2017, liked the idea of playing outside.

“The sound goes out so much more because it’s not in a crowded room and it’s kind of a nice day,” Hamilton said.

Carey Citak, freshman and music education major, played the horns and cymbals.

Citak said he thought the performance was unexpected. “Strange because I had never played it before, but cool too,” Citak said.

Tom-tom and cymbal player Aaron Taub, a junior and music performance major, said he also enjoyed playing outside for a change.

“Every single concert here is inside. I mean the piece on its own is different enough from everything else that happens here, but having it be outside and so super-loud is really a unique experience and opportunity. It’s nice to do something different,” Taub said.

James Shea, a senior and geography major with a music minor, played in a group that consisted of horns, timpani, triangles, cowbells and air horns.

He echoed the sentiments of his fellow musicians, saying that the atmosphere added to the effect of the piece.  “It’s a nice change for a performance being outside,” Shea said. Shea said that KSC Music Professors Chris Swist and Murray Mast came up with the idea of performing the piece.

They had performed it a few times before in different outdoor locations and received a positive response.

Swist and Mast were part of the ensemble that recorded along with 34 other percussion players for the album “Inuksuit,” conducted by John Luther Adams, that received critical acclaim.

“It was great that our sound and our music was able to be so much more amplified,  it really spreads out and also hits the buildings around, [it goes] off everything.  It was probably the best piece ever,” Shea said.


Hannah Sundell can be contacted at

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