|by Brittany Edwards • November 15, 2004|
Explore the artistic myths and mysteries of musical cultures from different parts of the globe without leaving Crawfordsville.
Wabash College’s Wamidan World Music Performance Ensemble will perform 8 p.m. tonight at Salter Hall in the Fine Arts Center, Grant Avenue. The show is free and open to the public.
The local ensemble performs genuine folk songs and dances from Africa, Australia and Asia.
Instruments from all over the world are used to orchestrate the legacy of indigenous cultures. Members of the ensemble don colorful, authentic costumes.
"It is important to understand diversity in the world, not as better or worse, but as different," said James Makubuya, Wabash College associate professor of music and Wamidan artistic director. "Exposure to different cultures broadens your horizons."
Makubuya grew up in Uganda, Africa. He moved to the United States 15 years ago. Life in Crawfordsville proves to be quite an adjustment for Makubuya. He lived in Washington, D.C., California and Boston before joining Wabash’s faculty in 2000.
Wabash students, staff, faculty and community members form the Wamidan World Music Performance Ensemble. Participants learn how to play several different kinds of instruments and specialize in one. They also learn traditional tribal dances.
"No previous experience required," Makubuya said. "I only require interest and commitment."
Students become part of the creative process. When a participant has a particular skill or interest in a new instrument, Makubuya (in accompanying photo) allows them to include it in the ensemble.
The group must not only learn how to play an instrument and dance, but they also must master presentation. Each member receives weekly one-on-one practices with Makubuya. The entire assemblage meets twice a week to rehearse together. After a semester of practice, the ensemble performs for the community.
The Wamidan World Music Performance Ensemble has performed at area churches and schools, the Indianapolis Art Museum, and the Celtic and Folk Music Festival, Cincinnati.
There are 17 members performing this semester. Wabash senior Julian Moreaux, chairman, hales from Ghana, Africa. Moreaux first performed with Wamidan in 2002, playing the antenteben, a traditional Ghanaian flute. He eventually learned several other instruments. Moreaux now teaches the group dances from his country.
"My favorite part will have to be the final performance where all anxiety and stage fright must be replaced with the broadest smile," Moreaux said. "Even after I graduate, I envision an ever dynamic group that makes a mark in the Crawfordsville community."
A unique twist to the production is audience participation. People are encouraged to join the stage and let the music move them.
"Like all folk traditions, the spectacle on the stage does not end with the physical platform we are on," Moreaux said. "As a spectacle, we see ourselves as leaders in a festival in which all are invited to partake."
More shy audience members are welcome to sing along from their seats.
"Hopefully, the audience leaves with a different perspective of the world," Makubuya said. "The point is to participate. Around the world community participation is essential. This is the music that is in their hearts."
Brittany Edwards is a reporter for the Crawfordsville Journal Review. This story appeared in its Nov. 15 edition.