LEWISTON – A performance of classical music from South India called “A Musical Odyssey in Rhythm Fantasies” will be presented at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13, at Bates College.

There will be a pre-concert demonstration at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12.

The six-musician ensemble is led by Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, a musician acclaimed in India for his mastery of the mrudangam, a hand drum with a head at either end. An energetic exponent of the music of South India, or Carnatic music, Sivaraman is also known for his work with Western musicians.

Other ensemble members are Mattanur Sankarankutty, who plays a tunable hand drum called a chenda; Nemani Somayajul, whose instrument is the jalatharangam, a set of porcelain bowls that are struck with sticks and tuned by adding varying amounts of water; Nagai Sriram, violin; E.M. Subramanian, who plays a clay jug called the ghatam; and Unnikrishnan, who plays a variety of melodic drums.

“Most Westerners who have heard Indian music know the sitar and tabla” – the stringed instrument and tuned drums popularized by sitarist Ravi Shankar and his accompanists, said Gina Fatone, a visiting assistant professor of music. “This concert will be wonderful because we’ll get to hear all these timbres that most of us here in the States don’t usually associate with Indian music.”

The musicians will also lecture in theory and musical interpretation courses at Bates.

The concert is presented by the Bates music department, with support from the Ethnomusicology Studies Fund, given by Eijk and Rose-Marie van Otterloo in honor of their son, Nils van Otterloo, ’99.

Where many institutions limit applied music instruction to orchestral instruments, Bates students have studied folk fiddling, sitar and the Greek bouzouki in addition to the usual violin and piano.

Bates supports its own gamelan orchestra, playing traditional Indonesian music, and a 2004 Bates graduate won a Fulbright grant this year to study traditional music in Mongolia.

“We’re currently expanding the range of concerts as well as the classes and one-on-one instruction we offer to include more musics of the world,” Fatone said. “We’re committed to exposing the community to as much variety as we can in the coming years.”

Both free events will be in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St., and are open to the public. Tuesday’s demonstration, part of the Noonday Concert Series, will last about 30 minutes; Wednesday’s performance is full-length.


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