The student weekly of St. Olaf College
Manitou Messenger: Ron George shakes that tembellan
Ron George shakes that tembellan
By Various Contributors
Friday, April 12, 2002
St. Olaf students know a lot about music, thanks to the college's world-renowned music department and touring ensembles. But when percussionist and composer Ron George premieres "A Gull's Body" at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 12, in Urness Recital Hall, audience members not only will hear a composition never before performed - they'll also hear it played on an instrument that few, if any, have ever seen. George is the proud inventor of seven new percussion instruments. "A Gull's Body" showcases the tambellan, which will be played by seven percussionists, who will be joined by soprano and bass voices and two flutes. George has been a member of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and is the cofounder of the Milwaukee Contemporary Chamber Music Ensemble. He holds masters degrees in music from Indiana University and the University of California-San Diego and has been on the faculty of many arts institutions. The tambellan is a modular percussion instrument that consists of a large array of tubular keyboards, disc gongs, tam tams, bell plates, bells of various sizes, bamboo keyboards, tunable tube drums and an assortment of Western percssion instruments. "It looks like the entire percussion section of an orchestra," says Peter Hamlin, Associate Professor of Music at St. Olaf. Inspired by the gamelan, an Indonesian instrument, the tambellan has a microtonal tuning system that can change in shape, timbre and tuning to meet the needs of any composition or performance situation. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will be devoted entirely to George's music. Works performed include A Gulls Body, "The Floating Bubble," "Sounds From a Distant Past" and "Improv on a Broken Nose." The works are based on the writings of Los Angeles poet Judy Liggett and employs a non-Western tonal scale developed by the composer. "This is a unique opportunity to hear a totally invented instrument, which fills 13 crates when it is disassembled," said Hamlin. "It's a unique sound that has its own scale. It will be like entering a world with sounds that the audience has never experienced before."
St. Olaf News Bureau
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