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Blair School of Music VORTEX percussion presents the American Gamelan

Posted by on Friday, February 27, 2015 in Events, News, Waste & Recycling.

VORTEX and the American Gamelan Poster

Nashville has the unique opportunity to experience the American Gamelan after its 900-mile journey to the Blair School of Music during the VORTEX percussion concert on March 15 at 8pm in Ingram Hall. The audience will be able to experience this unforgettable orchestra made from scrap materials that is so rare that only four exist in the world. The performance will explore the cultural frontiers opened by composers Henry Cowell, John Pennington and Lou Harrison, who often integrate themes of sustainability and environmentalism into their compositions.

The Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO) is a co-sponsor of the event and has joined forces with Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR) and Kefi Project to construct an interactive and educational art piece onsite in the plaza of the Blair School of Music that will celebrate reuse and recycling. The art installation will demonstrate the wide range of options we have to reuse and recycle everyday items, and echoes the percussion/musicality of the Gamelan by being a musical instrument itself. There will be three interactive pillars, each representing one of the three pillars of consumer sustainability – reduce, reuse, recycle – and each pillar will be made out of a different recyclable material. Read more about the event below.



Celebrate the world music legacy of Henry Cowell and Lou Harrison. East meets West as VORTEX presents the American Gamelan- an instrument so rare that  only four exist in the entire world. Experience the Nashville debut of an orchestra comprised of shimmering metal and created from scrapmaterials. Rare archival photographs, historic film and audio footage let Cowell and Harrison speak to you as VORTEX celebrates the radical inventors of the percussion orchestra.

Witness the influence of Henry Cowell over seven decades as VORTEX performs with Nashville’s newest contemporary dance company New Dialect, Blair violinist Carolyn Huebl, composer John Pennington, and Camaldolese Monk and tenor Cyprian Consiglio.


  • Noon: Documentary film: LOU HARRISON: A World of Music Produced by Eva Soltes

Skillfully assembled from over 300 hours of footage and more than two decades of documentation and research, this film paints an intimate portrait of an extraordinary American composer who followed his own dreams with unbridled style. Trading a fast­‐paced NY career for a remote cabin in the woods to recover from a breakdown, Lou Harrison (1917-‐2003)confronted his demons by writing beautiful music. Bucking the dissonant sound of the times, he embraced “delight over duty,” freely combining western, eastern, and custom-made instruments built by his partner, William Colvig. Harrison’s artistic curiosity and courage produced one of the great cross­‐cultural visions and musical legacies of the 20th century. This engaging documentary deftly manages to capture the spirit of this unique artist. Watch the trailer

  • 1:30 – 2:00 Break for coffee

2:00 Dr. John Pennington: Restore and Renew: The American Gamelan of Lou Harrison. Not sure of what a gamelan is? John Pennington  talks about the origins  of  the  American Gamelan, how it was built, and the music composed for this unique instrument. See parts of the American Gamelan up close in an intimate demonstration.

  • 2:45 Thirty-­minute concert by John Pennington and Camaldolese Monk Cyprian Consiglio

Musicians Cyprian Consiglio and John Pennington draw from a variety of holy texts, from a variety of traditions, saints grounded in the every day, secular poets grounded in mysticism. Their collaborative creation will be presented in this relaxed and informal mini-recital of music for voice, guitar, and percussion.

  • 6:45 MUSICIRCUS for Henry Cowell and Lou Harrison, Ingram Lobby & Plaza

Enter the imaginative world of Cowell and Harrison in an interactive exploration of sound and movement. Created in the festive spirit of John Cage, “You won’t hear a thing. You’ll hear everything!”

  • 8:00 VORTEX Concert, Ingram Hall

(Program: Cowell: 26 Simultaneous Mosaics, Pulse; Harrison: The Song of Quezalcoatl, Suite for Violin and American Gamelan; Rouse: Ku Ka Ilimoku; Skidmore: Ritual Music; Pennington: Gitanjali: The Poetry of Music)

See the flyer for the event here.


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