Instrumental Music Ensembles

Earlham Symphony OrchestraForrest Tobey, DirectorThe Earlham College Orchestra is a large ensemble dedicated to the performance of both standard and unusual orchestral repertoire. It is comprised of both music majors and non-majors who seek an opportunity to continue playing on their instrument of choice, even as they pursue other academic interests. Standards are of the highest level. Past performances have included a celebration of Leonard Bernstein (spring 2019), an all-Beethoven concert to inaugurate Lingle Recital Hall, multi-media concerts that take advantage of the hall’s excellent projection system, an evening of works by Geoge Crumb, with the composer present, a commissioned work by South Indian composer Ilayaraaja, and works that involve interactive computer music. Pictures at an Exhibition and Mahler’s Symphony no. 5 have also been performed. The orchestra recently served as the pit orchestra for the College’s production of Company.
Javanese Gamelan EnsembleMarc Benamou, DirectorA gamelan is a large set of Indonesian instruments consisting mostly of melodic percussion, which are tuned to non-Western intervals, and which are used for traditional ritual music in Java and Bali. Our gamelan is from central Java, which is known for its highly refined music and dance (the moods range from solemn to exuberant, but always within a fairly controlled register). Pieces in the repertoire may be extremely simple or exceedingly difficult and complex (we begin with the simpler ones, of course, since this is really just an introduction to the tradition) and the instruments within the ensemble also range from quickly learned parts to ones that require much skill. The ensemble can thus accommodate people of widely varying backgrounds and innate musical ability. No previous musical training is assumed: knowledge of Western staff notation and music theory is irrelevant. Typically a single public concert will be given toward the end of the semester.
Jazz Ensemble and Latin JazzThe Earlham Jazz Ensemble is a 24-member big band that performs classics from the Swing, Be-bop and Cool Jazz era in addition to more contemporary expressions. Unlike many other university jazz ensembles, the Earlham Jazz Ensemble embraces each player’s unique style and instrumentation. Leaders of the ensemble participate in a steering committee, who help choose the repertoire and organize performances around the community, Indianapolis, and on-campus. Emphasis is on honoring the jazz tradition, while jazz improvisation is taught within the context of the rehearsal, with outside coaching available.

The Earlham Latin Jazz Combo explores salsa, merengue, cumbia, bolero, Latin jazz, and other multicultural musical genres of Latin America. With energy as the group’s main component, the polyrhythmic material challenges as well as excites the players and the audience. The Earlham Latin Jazz Combo embraces each player’s unique style and instrumentation. Leaders of the ensemble participate in a steering committee, who help choose the repertoire and organize performances around the community, Indianapolis, and on campus. Outside coaching is available.
Hand Drum EnsembleKeith Cozart Steele, DirectorThe Hand Drum Ensemble is open to all students, faculty and staff. No previous musical knowledge is necessary. It encourages and motivates a wide spectrum of musical backgrounds from the musical novice up through the experienced drummer/percussionist. The group learns most all material by rote/demonstration and incorporates a wide variety of musical styles and instruments, such as West African djembe/dundun, Brazilian batucada, Afro-Cuban congas/timbales/bongos, and North American keyboard percussion ensemble repertoire- just to name a few. Concerts occur at least twice a semester in addition to impromptu events, drum circles, and collaboration with community concerts, campus festivals and student dance groups. Come drum with Hand Drum Ensemble.
Rhythm ProjectKeith Cozart Steele, DirectorThe Earlham Rhythm Project is open to all students, faculty and staff with the suggestion that previous musical and/or percussion experience is recommended. The ability to recognize standard sheet music notation is also recommended, but not required. This very active and fast passed ensemble rehearses, performs and functions as a typical percussion ensemble while also supporting the percussive needs of the Earlham orchestra, choirs and theatre. The Rhythm Project draws repertoire from a wide variety of composed percussion literature, jazz/pop/rock standards, and entertaining novelty pieces. Concerts occur at least twice a semester in addition to impromptu events and collaboration with community concerts, campus festivals and student dance groups.
Afro-Cuban Drumming: an introduction to Latin percussionKeith Cozart Steele, DirectorAfro-Cuban Drumming is open to all students with the suggestion that some previous musical experience is recommended. This course begins with the exploration of Afro-Cuban drumming and singing by first learning the basics of son, rumba and afro-cuban clave and the techniques of playing three primary sets of drums: congas, bongos and timbales. The ensemble frequently explores a bit of Batá drumming and singing as well, from the traditions of the land of Yoruba, Nigeria and its cross-continental/cultural continuation known as Santería — stemming from Cuba, Puerto Rico and the United States. The group performs at least once a semester in recital and/or concert and is an excellent course for students looking to hone Latin percussion skills prior to joining other ensembles such as Latin Jazz, Hand Drum Ensemble or Rhythm Project.
String QuartetThis group is auditioned from the orchestra and rehearses and performs masterpieces from the vast repertoire of string quartet music.
Flute ChoirElaine Bergman, CoachThe Flute Choir assembles flute players from around the campus to rehearse and perform unique flute repertoire. In the spring semester, five players from the orchestra will be forming a woodwind quintet to rehearse and perform masterpieces from the genre.
Brass EnsembleRich Begel, CoachThe Brass Ensemble rehearses and performs representative works from the literature for brass.

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