Arts Transcending Borders’ Sō Percussion residency draws on Holy Cross talent in "A Gun Show"
From February 7-10, 2017, Arts Transcending Borders hosted contemporary ensemble Sō Percussion in residency at the College of the Holy Cross with their latest project, "A Gun Show."
With its innovative multi-genre original productions, incisive interpretations of modern classics, and “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam” (The New Yorker), Sō Percussion has engaged in creative collaborations in its 15 years together and released 18 albums. Conceived as a way to process the artists’ emotions after the unfathomable school shootings in Newtown, CT, "A Gun Show" is an exploration of our society’s gun culture and how it intersects with larger issues such as race, economic inequality, public safety, and constitutional rights through music, text, and movement. A collaboration between Sō Percussion and Obie-winning theatre director Ain Gordon and choreographer Emily Johnson, "A Gun Show" also brought six Holy Cross students into the project as part of the percussion chorus on stage.
Andrea Bucknam '20 (Wethersfield, CT) is planning to major in Chemistry. She has been playing percussion for five years and is involved in the Holy Cross Marching Band, Concert Band, and the Pep Band. Andrea also plays the cello and has played the piano since she was five years old.
In her words: "My mind was expanded so much by this performance. In the past, I've performed music that was made to be just listened to, not necessarily looked into with such depth as this. My confidence as a musician has been improved upon as well-- I feel as though I can learn any rhythm, given the difficulty of the rhythms in this performance, and that no matter how unusual a certain part seems on its own, it has a place in the grand scheme of the performance. I was honored to play alongside Sō Percussion; they are incredible musicians. I learned a lot from them in the week we worked together, and had a lot of fun as well."
In a residency week interrupted by snow and a rare campus closure, members of Sō Percussion divided their time between rehearsals and class visits to help introduce students to their work and explore together some of the themes and issues explored in "A Gun Show."
On the final day of the residency, Sō Percussion visited the South High Community School to engage students in the school's popular marching band program. An engaging lecture from the origins of percussion in Ottoman Janissary bands to the use of everyday objects as percussion, alongside demonstrations of works by contemporary composers John Cage and Steve Reich, and their own music from "A Gun Show," sparked curiosity and stretched the students' musical imagination. A highlight was when Sō players joined the drum section of the band, adding their improvisatory skills to the parade cadence. As the ensemble took their leave to prepare for the evening's performance, students practicing snippets of Reich’s "Clapping Music" could be heard in the hallways of South High.