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November 20, 2007

Ensemble celebrates five years with double-feature concert


TMU logoPercussion ensemble Temporal Mechanics Union will conclude its fifth anniversary season with a percussion theatre double-feature performance Thursday, December 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robert Brown Theatre at Cowley College. Admission is free and open to the public. The audience is invited to join the performers for a reception following the concert.

What is “percussion theatre?” It means a lot of things, according to TMU musical director Chris Mayer.
“More than just music, percussion theatre is an event,” Mayer said. “It combines sight and sound and movement into a single performance.”

For this concert, the ensemble is presenting two such works, “Ancient Egyptian Suite” and “The Signal.”
“Ancient Egyptian Suite” features original poems by Temporal Mechanics Union member John Virden, set to traditional rhythms of Egypt.

“We also throw in some things that you might not think of, when you think of ancient Egypt,” Mayer said. “I don’t want to give too much away, but the suite is built around the idea there’s more than one Memphis, and Pharaoh is not the only king in town.”

The music and narration will be accompanied by a slide show of original art works produced by Cowley College art students, under the direction of instructor Mark Flickinger.

“The Signal” is the third major collaboration between TMU and Minnesota composer Todd Harper. It is a one-act science fiction satire, in which the rulers of future society implant a chip into everyone’s head, to control their thoughts and actions.

“It’s meant to be a commentary on technology, and the way it is perhaps controlling us, instead of us using it,” Mayer said. “I hope people will laugh at the jokes in the theatre, and think about the serious ideas later.”
This performance is augmented by additional musicians under the direction of Cowley College instrumental music director Josh Fleig, Cowley student dancers, and faculty members Marlys Cervantes, Tom Mason and Julie Rhoads acting as the rulers of the future, called the “Powers that Be.” Composer Harper will also join the group to play piano.

The concert will also include a traditional drumming piece from Ghana, “Ritual Number 1” by Pennsylvania composer Steve Kastuck, and an improvised duet by Harper and Mayer entitled “Fire From Rocks 1,000 Years Submerged.”

Temporal Mechanics Union is a community-based, multigenerational all-ability ensemble. Anyone may join, regardless of musical skill, experience or age. Current members of the group are Jessamine Baker, Sandra Dobbins, Justin Douglas, Wayne Farley, Mike Fell, Denise Luce, Bryan McChesney, John Virden, and Larry Whalen.