SASRA Music and Arts Concert: O Duo Percussion

– By Beneta Livesey

THEY bounded into the room, pounced on a cluster of bongo drums and began a furious war dance, beating out loud syncopated rhythms.

In this manner, Owen and Oliver started their programme of percussion music for SASRA Music and Arts in Egremont Market Hall on Friday December 4.

Percussion players need to be physically agile, especially while playing a large instrument like the marimba, and on Friday there were two of these plus a vibraphone together with several drums of assorted sizes.

A sonorous gong, a galvanised bucket ( of unique acoustic quality, the audience was informed) and a large helical spring more or less made up the set of instruments that O Duo utilised to present their programme.

Part of the pleasure of a percussion band is given by the choreographic skills of the players as well as their ability to conjure music from their instruments, and O Duo treated us handsomely in both regards. In addition, their amusing and informative comments on the pieces they played made the audience laugh continually.

After their introductory extravaganza O Duo continued with Spanish Dances by Granados, a French Suite by J.S. Bach and two Chopin studies.

In sharp contrast to these was an arrangement of Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, a cool jazz piece in which three people from the audience were invited to provide the background beat whilst the two O’s leapt from one end of their instruments to the other, even managing to fit in a casual conversation with the audience, as well. In complete contrast to these pieces was their own composition, Searching.

This was a powerful piece conveying, by the growing intensity of the music, all the emotions which someone may have when looking for something of great personal value, either physical or spiritual.

Another composition, Signals from Space, written by Oliver, was played at the end of the programme.

With its humming, hissing and whistling sounds and ‘violin drawn against vibraphone’ noises it would be a sure fire success as background music for a Sci-fi film.

Their encore was the Minute Waltz which they told us would take a few seconds more than a minute.

It did, not surprisingly, since the performers covered a lot of ground as they ran around their marimba in a race against time. And so ended a very successful evening with everyone going out into the wind and rain with a smile on their faces.

Next concert: The Thorne Trio on January 29th.