Strolling into King Chapel on a Friday evening for a concert, one expects some classical pieces, polite claps and somber white-washed faces on stage in constricting uniforms. The expectation is not loud shirts, grooving hips, and every audience member unable to refrain from rolling their shoulders with the beat. Yet, when pan drums are the medium and Dr. Martin and Lisa Hearne are preparing their musicians to venture into New Orleans this February, this is the atmosphere within the chapel.
“The music. The other groups I am in do more classical type music and steel pans is more pop songs and fun music. We play some Disney music and we used to do a Halloween concert,” said Lizzy Davidson (17), a member of steel drums for three years.
Of course notes are always a top priority for any musical performance but at a steel drums concert, the performers are challenged to take performance further. Davidson said, “Our goal is to make the audience have fun too. We sometimes do conga lines. When we would do Halloween concerts we would have little kids in their costumes parade across the stage.”
Another important aspect of making the audience have a fun and enjoyable experience, or even feel like they are being transported to New Orleans, is ensuring that the performers look like they are having fun.
“It is challenging to get into the music and keeping your body moving because you are really concentrating on the music and what your pans are doing and then you also have to make sure you are moving,” said Davidson.
While sitting in the pews the crowd was offered with an entirely multidimensional experience, including Calypso singers, brass Instruments and the star of the show, the pans. While the drums alone create a completely unique sound, choreographed singers and a piercing trumpet, trombone and saxophone on the side made it all the better.
“This is actually the first time that we have brought in singers and it has been specifically for the Mardi Gras thing,” said Davidson of her three years in steel drums.
While Pandemonium has only been practicing since September, preparations were underway beginning last year, and the group is working on having a full repertoire of music, some they began last year but other pieces they have yet to receive, and are well on their way to be parading down the street in New Orleans and representing Cornell College well to the millions of people who will be attending.
Pandemonium will be the only group heading to New Orleans this February. The group Toucan-made up mostly of first-year students and students new to music-is readying the students who have little to no experience with steel pans or who have never done percussion before.
As for the Friday night concert, both groups met their goal and ensured that the audience was having just as much fun as they were. How can fun be left out of the equation with Mardi Gras beads being hurled into the audience and music from John Lennon to Carlos Santana?
Abby Bridgett, Staff Writer