Performing Arts Series presents CulturallyINappropriate, a world music fusion band with musicians from all over the world

The CulturallyINappropriate ensemble was formed at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance. Mara Ireta Gordon/Argosy

The Mount Allison Performing Arts Series prides itself on bringing distinguished and diverse artists to Mount Allison’s campus every year, and this year is no exception. The series began with a bang by welcoming world fusion ensemble CulturallyINappropriate to the Brunton stage on Friday evening.

The CulturallyINappropriate ensemble was formed by renowned performers at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance. Dinuk Wijeratne, Juno Award-winning composer and pianist, along with tabla virtuoso Sandeep Das and Canadian bassist Roberto Occhipinti had compositions featured as a part of the program, which was all about love and life. As the ensemble played, you could feel these themes emanating throughout the room.

The performance was a lively and engaging show that combined music from all over the world with classical and jazz styles. It included solos from each musician and displayed the virtuosity of each member of the ensemble. The performance had a purity about it; it was clear that the program had never been performed the same way twice and that the musicians cared for every note of every piece. “The energetic collaboration between musicians was like a well rehearsed international jam session,” said Margaret Hancox, a bachelor of music student.

The group gave a workshop in the early afternoon to preface the show and introduce their instruments. Many of these diverse instruments were ones not found in traditional music conservatories. “They invited us onstage with them as they explained their instruments to us,” said Emily Leavitt, a fourth-year music student. “What I found super interesting is that a lot of people from the Middle East or India didn’t learn their instruments at a conservatory, but by ear.…  The tabla player went to live with a guru for 12 years and learned tabla in exchange for doing chores.”

The workshop provided students and faculty with an opportunity to learn about instruments that often aren’t a part of Western music. The ensemble itself was made up of piano, tabla, sitar, string bass, kanun, oud, drum kit and violin. The performers had tremendous knowledge of their instruments and were even applauding each other’s solos during the show. It takes great musicians to play with such cohesion and support.

The Mount Allison Performing Arts Series has a fantastic lineup for the 2019-20 season. CulturallyINappropriate will be difficult to top, but Mount Allison plans on welcoming Polaris prize-winning artist Jeremy Dutcher in November and Paul Merkelo, the principal trumpet of the Montreal Symphony, in March.

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