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A Collaboration in Improvisation with VORTEX percussion

  • Blair School of Music, Ingram Hall 2400 Blakemore Ave Nashville, TN, 37212 United States (map)
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This March, Vanderbilt University’s VORTEX percussion will present a celebration of the American Gamelan—a unique set of percussion instruments—rarely, if ever, hear before in Nashville.

Only six or seven works have been composed for The American Gamelan and this concert will feature two of them: one by Lou Harrison and one by Dr. John Pennington.

During the concert, New Dialect dancers Becca Place and Rebecca Allen will join the musicians onstage to perform a structured improvisation in conversation with the ensemble's rendition of Henry Cowell's "26 Simultaneous Mosaics" for percussion, piano, cello, violin, and clarinet. As Modern Records describes it, Cowell's composition "embraces a high degree of 'chance operations'—musical options [are] left to the chance interactions of the... players. It is a remarkably free work and no two performances are ever the same." 

We’re thrilled to be working with Michael Holland and VORTEX. One of the key pieces of New Dialect’s mission, our passion, is to collaborate with other makers in our city, and we’re looking forward to sharing the stage with such a daring and talented group.
— Banning Bouldin

VORTEX has a longstanding habit of collaborating with artists of all sorts to produce concerts that blur the lines between rigorous conventional chamber music and unexpected theater. Their past collaborations include a centennial celebration of John Cage with former dancers of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, as well as a restored orchestration of George Antheil’s original 1926 Ballet mécanique that will, by invitation of the French Government, premiere in Paris next year.


"The most beautiful instrument on the planet."    

- Lou Harrison

Photo by Michael Weintrob                                                                         

Photo by Michael Weintrob                                                                        


A series of activities celebrating The American Gamelan will precede the concert, beginning with a 12:00pm screening of the new documentary film LOU HARRISON: A World of Music.

Dr. John Pennington will then follow the screening with a brief talk on the origins of the Gamelan at 2:00pm before joining Camaldolese monk Cyprian Consiglio for a thirty-minute concert that draws inspiration from a variety of mystical texts. 

A few hours later, at 6:45pm, VORTEX and friends will stage an interactive MusiCircus for Cowell and Harrison in the plaza and lobby of Ingram Hall featuring a menagerie of sounds from West Africa, Brazil, China, Japan, India and other locales from around the world.

Admission is free for all events and audience members are advised to arrive early for guaranteed seating. 

MusiCircus: 6:45: Ingram Plaza and Lobby
Concert: 8:00: Ingram Hall


VORTEX percussion

New Dialect – Rebecca Allen, Becca Place

Guest Artists: John Pennington, Cyprian Consiglio, Carolyn Huebl

Concert program: Cowell: 26 Simultaneous Mosaics, Pulse; Harrison: The Song of Quetzalcoatl, Suite for Violin and American Gamelan; Rouse: Ku Ka Ilimoku; Pennington: Gitanjali: The Poetry of Music for American Gamelan and Tenor (Text by Rabindranath Tagore); Skidmore: Ritual Music

Recommended age: MusiCircus: All ages; Concert: Five and up

Earlier Event: December 10
Later Event: March 26