This Saturday Victoria and I attended a performance of the Macalester African Music Ensemble led by Sowah Mensah. Victoria saw their big performance back in December, but unfortunately I was out of town and couldn’t make it. She was really impressed with their performance and thought it might be something I would enjoy (a lot of the music performances she attends aren’t really my cup of tea). I had heard good things about the ensemble and was really bummed that I had missed their show, so when Victoria told me they were performing on Saturday night, I jumped on it.
I loved the pattern on the ceiling of the ballroom.
The group is comprised of 40 Macalester students who have to audition for a spot in the ensemble. Once everyone was in their place the stage was packed with performers.
The instruments were all authentic and wonderful in their diversity. These drums were enormous and the mallets used by the drummers had a bend near the end so they would strike the drum face directly.
One piece began with everyone playing a rhythm on a handheld gourd. Though simple, the effect was lovely.
Later in the piece they added these drums, which were some of my favorite instruments of the night. They consist of half of a giant gourd placed upside down in a bowl full of water. The gourd, which floated on top of the water, was then struck by mallets. The sound they made was very, very cool.
Another wonderful piece was played entirely on these xylophones, whose resonators are gourds hanging below the bars.
And here’s a last shot of the drummers playing some different instruments.
The Macalester African Music Ensemble will be holding their big spring concert on campus on Saturday, April 28. If you are a fan of African music and you are in the Twin Cities, I highly recommend you check it out.