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March 20, 1985 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-03-20

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, March 20, 1985

Page 5

From Russia, with music

By Neil

Galan ter

H e is probably the
living cellist. He is a co
composer, and pianist. Who c
that, you might be asking?
very few people, but there is
who does. His name:A
Rostropovich. He is Mr. Renai
music, and it's no small feat.
Rostropovich will be showing
as Mr. conductor when he m
first appearance with thel
Symphony Orchestra of Wa
D.C., at Hill Auditorium W
evening at8:30 p.m.
Rostropovich studied the c
his father until he turned eight
tinued his musical educatio
famous Moscow Conservatory
activities at the conservatory
just on the cello. He enrolle
with equal studies in composit
ning under the Russian c
Dmitri Shostakovich. He
receiving his "collection of
when he was a young music
they include the first prize nott
twice, in the Prague Inter
Competition and first prize
Budapest competition, to boot.

youth, he has gone on to concertize ex-
tensively on all parts of the globe.
Many illustrious awards have been
disbersed to the Maestro in addition to
his active concertizing. Honorary
greates memberships in the Academy of St.
onductor, Cecilia of Rome and in the Academy of
an do all Arts and Sciences in the US belong to
Actually him. And, he has received gold medals
someone from the Royal Philharmonic Society of
Ms tislav Great Britain and from various cities in
ssance of France, Greece, Japan, Israel, and
Maestro "Spain. He has an impressive list of
himself honorary doctoral degrees from a
akes his variety of prestigious universities, too.
National His other accomplishments all number
ishington too many to list in the span of one ar-
ednesday ticle, yet it is definitely safe to say the
Maestro Rostropovich is a highly
ello with polished musician and his many awar-
and con- ds are enti
n at the One interesting aspect of his life
. But, his which is worth mention is the 'story of
were not how' the Rostropoviches ended up
d dually, leaving their native Russia. After 1970,
ion, lear- the limitations placed on the creative
omposer efforts of Rostropovich and his wife
began grew progressively more restrictive.
f prizes" Cancellations of concerts and foreign
cian, and tours as well as coverage restrictions in
once, but Soviet press, television, and radio
rnational coverage began to occur after
e in the Rostropovich and his wife, soprano
Since his Galina Vishnevskaya, invited Soviet

writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn to live
with them in their dacha outside of
Moscow in 1969. The limitations that
were being placed upon Rostropovich
and his wife were too much for them to
handle lightheartedly, so they finally
felt forced to write an open letter to
the Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev.
The letter denounced these intolerable
conditions and was also a request for
permission to travel abroad for two
years. At the same time Senator Ed-
ward M. Kennedy spoke with Brezhnev
about Mr. and Mrs. Rostropovich's
future, and they were thus granted exit
visas. Unfortunately, the story didn't
end happily here. Four years later in
1978, the Presidium of the Supreme
Soviet stripped the Rostropoviches of
their Soviet citizenships because of
"acts harmful to the prestige of the
U.S.S.R." Now, the Maestro, who is one
of the world's most outspoken defen-
ders of human rights and artistic
freedom, travels with a temporary
passport from Switzerland.
Even though all this has entered into
Rostropovich's life, it has not stopped
or deterred him from a flourishing
career in all other parts of the world.
He has been a guest of President and
Mrs. Carter in a White House Recital,
at the personal invitation of the Car-
ters, and, as a conductor, he has gone to

tour all over the world with his or-
chestra, The National Symphony.
Sounds tiring? Perhaps, and even
though Rostropovich was on sabbatical
from conducting in 1984, he still main-
tained a strenuous performing schedule
as a cellist.
We won't be lucky enough to hear him
both as a cellist and as a conductor in
Ann Arbor this evening, when he is here
with the National Symphony, but we
will get to hear him interpret the works
of Beethoven and Shostakovich, using
his baton as his instrument. The
program includes Beethoven's Fourth
Symphony in B Flat Major and
Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony in D
Minor. The program is ideal.
Rostropovich will be able to show his
musical crafts from the uncomparable
pen of Beethoven and from a composer
from the Maestro's native homeland,
Dmitri Shostakovich, with whom
Rostropovich maintained a very
meaningful friendship.
Does all this sound enticing enough to
see the Maestro in person? I can help
you with that, and so can the University
Musical Society. There are still some
tickets left in all price ranges, that
range being $8-$18, and they are easily
obtained at the box office in Burton
Tower. You can get complete detailsby ,
calling the Musical Society directly.

Mstislav Rostropovich, a world-renowned cellist and also a conductor, will
appear at Hill Auditorium this Wednesday night.

Choir and Scott-

Heron stir soul

By Marc Taras
SOMETIMES I feel like a victim of
cultural compression. It's bizarre.
And Fun. Things are happening wild
and wonderful in Ann Arbor lately. And
all at once day after day. Sometimes
difficult decisions are necessary. Kodo
appears the same night as the ensemble
from Taiwan offers their free concert.
Eeeesh! Other times energy and
scheduling combine to allow for
doubling (or tripling, etc. ad nauseum)
your fun. Such was the case last week
when we were able to attend concerts
by the Aboriginal Percussion Choir and
Gil Scott-Heron. The night was a little
hectic and a lot of fun. Compression in
action.
' The Aboriginal Percussion Choir is a
wildly dynamic ensemble of world class
local musicians. They took to the stage
Tuesday'at the Michigan League
Ballroom under the auspices of Eclipse
Jazz. and the direction of world
renowned jazz drummer Roy Brooks.
Brooks wore a blue gown and a stern
countenance looking for all the world
like the dean of percussors addressing
his graduating class. And what a class!
The music that these folks offer tran-
scends 'jazz' or any other label and the
Choirs' appearance amplifies this.
"Choir?" I had been asked
repeatedly. "Aboriginal Percussion
Choir?" Anyone who was at the concert
understands. This is a dynamic 'and
delicate layering of percussive voices
that can range from the sublimely
mesmerizing to the ridiculously
cacophonous. And always these voices
in harmony.
The first piece invited us into a rain
forest multiple mallet world where the
traditional and contemporary meet.
Sinewy xylophone lines dancing with
purring vibra phones and ancient
African-mallet songs. It was entitled
'Nia', a Swahili word, meaning 'pur-
pose.' There was purpose here. The
choir was operating as a unit,
amazingly responsive, well rehearsed
and spontaneous.
The second piece bore an African title
meaning "Self-Determination." It
blossomed like a drum flower unfolding
one percussive petal at a time. Cowbell.
Traps. Woodblock. Mallets. Shakers. 0
the drama! Drum drama. The steel
drums sang of the strength of will, hap-
pily winding their way through a gar-
den maze of rhythmic regularity.
There was also a variety of 'chamber'
arrangements for smaller groups from
within the choir. One such moment
featured two berimbaus and tablas.
The berimbau is a one string bowed in-
strument from Brazil that is played in
conjunction with basket rattles woven
from dried seaweed called caxixi (ca-
shee-shee). While the two berimbaus
danced, Tani Tabbla of the Griot
Galaxy drummed along on tablas. Afro-
Indian-Third World Bliss.
Try to imagine the widest variety of
gongs you have ever heard: This was
'The Gong Song.' You begin to hear at
last Grasshopper. The world's dinner
bells. Ceremonies. Roy Brooks is the
Shaman conducting the improvising
ritual. Raising the dynamics of gong
speech until the sound equals silence.
: Pulsing like your heartbeat. Ringing in
your ears like your Central Nervous
r System and Stillness.

morality keep pace with his politics. All
of which are right on. Love Rules, OK?
"Beam Me Up" is a comic bit of
spacey funk about a little guy from
another planet who decides that
"there's no inteligent life down here."
As always Gil Scott-Heron's humor
shines through; a tangible demon-
stration of his belief in progress. As he
launched into rhythms from the streets
of Washington, D.C. ("It's the
capitol!") I noticed again how light in
the body he appeared. 'Not frail or sick
but as if he could split at any time. I felt
that he was a blessing. And sadly, that
he was a man whose wisdom has ex-
panded while his audience has contrac-
ted. And now...when we need his wit
and wisdoms the most!
Scott-Heron's band was a powerful
quartet featuring Detroit's Kim Jordan
on keyboards. Her playing was con-
sistently high powered. Saxophonist
Holloway reminded us of Fathead
Newman's funkiness and David San-
born's clarion grip. Yow! Some funk!
Robert Gordon on bass and drummer
Steve Walker rounded out the rhythm
section which shook the people nest all
night.
With 'Johannesburg' I felt the full
weight of telescoping cultural com-
pression. Eeyoww ! It was kind of
tragic. This song of apartheid and
worldwide attitude deficits is more
topical now than when he recorded it
over ten years ago. This South African
stuff has been struggling to the surface
of the global (not to mention national)
agenda for decades man! And Gil Scott-
Heron has been putting his shoulder to
the wheel for years! And it is tough
when things are thinning out around
you. This is why we all must hold on to
our dreams and put our shoulders to the
wheel. Wake up Angels! Wake up
Angels!
It was a long night and the activity
was even longer. It's kind of a magical
thing about Ann Arbor. Everyone wants
to learn a lot-to do a lot-in a little.
This desire manifests itself as com-
munity energy. Sort of an aura about
the town. It creates this effect. Cultural
compression. The world before your
ears in eight or nine days. Tops. I won-
der how dense I would be by now if I
were chasing down all the lectures,
readings, films, (I'm getting denser!)
rallies, exhibits, plays, (help!) sports,
dances, recitals.....

paily Photo by KATE O'LEARY
Gil Scott-Heron wails out some very spirited (and political) tunes at the still-
standing Joe's Star Lounge.
$1.50 TUES. ALL DAY EXCEPT "FIELDS"
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DAILY 455 7:10, 9:30 (R) Sorry, no Tuesday discount price.
DAILY 4:15, 7:00, 9:35

From bongos to basketballs to conches, the instruments used by the
Aboriginal Percussion choir resounded to manic perfection.

Natural! ") called 'Basketball.' Every
face was calm. None belied what was to
come. Suddenly three of the players
appeared in front of the stage dribbling
wildly. The basketballs provided a
dribble-rhythm that Tani Tabbal
echoed on tablas. This was great music,,
great theatre, and great fun.
The evening with the Aboriginal Per-
cussion Choir soon came to an end with
astonishing "Gloom and Doom." This is
rampant drum power! Flash powder
explosives. A conch shell ensemble (is
there no end of variety?) Chaos a la
conch while Prof. Roy Brooks looks on
in approval. Somebody's firing a toy
e ®r-
e' Ololl

M16 at Roy. Sirens! Glass breaking!
Cap guns! Screaming! What a riot! The
band had evidently had a great time
and so had we. But the evening was
young and we were feeling the com-
pression. Across town at Joe's
Seemingly Eternal Star Lounge Gil
Scott-Heron, the crown prince of funky-
political satire and poet laureate of
jazz, was about to begin his second
show of the evening. And ours.
Scott-Heron took the stage looking
somewhat grayer than I have seen him
but showed himself to be as keen-witted
and ascerbic as ever. And as warm as
ever. Here is a guy whose heart and

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