The Keene State College Latin American Ensemble, Cotopaxi, and the KSC Guitar Orchestra brought a myriad of diverse music and sounds to the stage last Wednesday, Nov. 8, for their performances.
One piece Cotopaxi performed was named “Huasipichay,” a étude for panpipes in the Andean style, composed by KSC Coordinator of Guitar and Latin American Music and Professor Dr. José Lezcano. The purpose of this tune was to introduce students to “the dialogue or interlocking style of panpipes performance” that is typically found in the South Andes. The panpipes themselves traditionally consist of one or two rows of tubes of gradually increasing length, that, when blown into, can create a sound. The instrument used in the performance is native to the Andes.
“Music is a bonding experience for everyone,” Lezcano said.
A first-year music education major, Grant Desmarais, was a part of the performance. He said the class had been preparing for the performance over the course of the whole semester.
“I thought it went very well,” Desmarais said. “I’ve been pan-piping in class very frequently.”
Another first-year music education major Claire Fifield played the saxophone and panpipes for the Latin American Ensembles performance. Both Fifield and Desmarais had never used pan-pipes before, but said they enjoyed the experience of learning to use them.
“As far as I know, nobody in the class had experience with them but the majority were making a sound and doing pretty well,” Fifield said. “There is always room for improvement but overall, I think it was a success.”
Fifield was not a new face in performing with the Music Department, performing previously with Concert Band earlier this month and will be performing with the Jazz Ensemble and Saxophone Ensemble later this year.
After a short intermission, the KSC Guitar Orchestra took to the stage, with an extremely diverse repertoire spanning France, Haiti, Bulgaria, Austria and the United States.
Senior music composition student, Andrew Brace, composed the first piece in the second-half of the performance, the Guitar Duo, as well as performed in the Guitar Orchestra.
“It was just neat to perform my own music,” Brace said.
He also chose the repertoire for the second three movements from composer Ivan Shekov. Brace thought the performance went “really well.”
Brace said, “All the players did a good job, they all work really hard to get the music learned.”
On what drove him to start composing, Brace said, “I think inevitably most players end up writing their own stuff. If you’re not hearing what you want to hear, you have to write it yourself.”
For Lezcano, he said it was great to work with students under different liberal arts disciplines, alongside music majors.
“We’ve got safety majors, exercise science, I have a microbiology student in the group,” Lezcano said. “I teach them to play the panpipes, which is a community instrument played in Andean rituals.”
Many of these interdisciplinary students had not been on stage since junior high, Lezcano said.
“The students grow. They grow through learning challenging music and developing greater rhythmic acuity,” Lezcano said. “The guitarists are learning how to follow a conductor, which they never have had to do usually.”
Overall, the performances were a “great success” according to Lezcano.
“It’s one of the best groups I have worked with. They really came through,” Lezcano said. “I feel very fortunate.”
Meridith King can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org