DeKALB – The eighth annual “Transformation through Rhythm” concert will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St. in DeKalb.
The show will feature the DeKalb High School Percussion Ensemble, the Northern Illinois University Percussion Ensemble and the Harambee African Percussion Ensemble, involving more than 60 performers.
The concert is free, but donations are appreciated.
Produced by Northwestern Medicine Hospice DeKalb, 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit its sister hospice in Knysna, South Africa. Since 2004, Northwestern Medicine Hospice has been a part of Global Partners in Care, a national organization that links U.S. hospices with Sub-Saharan African hospices, to assist with funds, skills and knowledge.
MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton spoke to Greg Beyer, co-director of the NIU Percussion Ensemble with Ben Wahlund and director of percussion studies at NIU, about the upcoming concert and the music that will be performed.
Milton: Where will the concert be held?
Beyer: For the last seven years, the event has been held at DeKalb High School. This year, the event will be held at the Egyptian Theatre, helping to open up the event to the entire community at large.
Milton: What groups will perform?
Beyer: Music will be performed by the DeKalb High School Percussion Ensemble, the NIU Percussion Ensemble and the Harambee African Percussion Ensemble. We will all perform a melody and a song at the end as a group performance. The song, “Amani Utupe,” has lyrics in Swahili about community. Some of the lyrics translated mean, “As we travel down this weary road / grant us peace, give us courage.”
Milton: How will each ensemble differ from the others?
Beyer: Each ensemble brings a different flavor and repertoire. The NIU Percussion Ensemble will perform three songs. The first, “Kibo,” is a snare drum feature accompanied by marimba and vibraphone. It will have a harmonic quotation of a song by Toto. The other two songs are connected to the Afro-Brazilian tradition. The second is a Caetano Veloso piece and the third is by Paul Simon, recorded on the album “Rhythm and Saints”.
Milton: What will the other two ensembles perform?
Beyer: The DeKalb High School Percussion Ensemble will perform melodies from Guatemala, featuring a marimba, and a contemporary piece by Ivan Trevino with different instruments. The Harambee African Percussion Ensemble will have more than 50 children playing songs on African drums. It’s absolutely adorable and at the same time so well done and well-polished.
Milton: Would you say that this is just an event for people who love percussion?
Beyer: I firmly believe that this is a heart-warming, fun event for the entire community and for all ages. There will be something for everyone. It’s the kind of music people clap and sing along to. You will leave with a smile on your face not only because of the music, but because you’re helping support people on the other side of the planet. You’re helping make the world a better place through music.