The Cal Poly Choirs are bringing music to the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center on Feb. 22. PolyPhonics (above) will be performing at the event.
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Cal Poly Choirs is bringing music from around the world to the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center on Feb. 22 with its winter concert, “Songs of Travel.”
PolyPhonics, the Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble and the Canzona Women’s Ensemble will come together for this event.
Professor and PolyPhonics and University Singers conductor Thomas Davies, along with associate professor and Arab Music Ensemble director Ken Habib, will lead the group.
“These choirs are classes, they meet every quarter and every quarter we do a performance,” Davies said.
The University Singers will open the concert with pieces from the Philippines, Argentina, Kenya, Columbia, Japan and Korea.
The Canzona Women’s Ensemble will also perform.
“In the fall, the ladies from PolyPhonics combined with this group to perform a new work written by Dr. Meredith Brammeier, who is on our faculty here at Cal Poly,” Davies said.
PolyPhonics and the Arab Music Ensemble will showcase the same program they plan on performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City at the World Projects 2014 New York Choral Festival next month. The second half of the program will be the Carnegie Hall performance.
PolyPhonics will begin their performance with a piece by Dr. Brammeier and Dr. Craig Russell. They will continue with pieces from Japan sung in Japanese, the English Channel Islands sung in French and an American Spiritual piece.
Then PolyPhonics and the Arab Music Ensemble will combine with a suite of music. They are combining a traditional European American choir with an Arab music ensemble.
The collaborated performance will include some traditional eastern Arab music in a genre called Muwashshah.
“It is one of the oldest continuously performed art music traditions in the world,” Habib said.
The suite will also include a famous Levantine line dance in a genre called Dabke and a dance in the Muwashshah genre. Two of the dances in the concert are brand-new, never-seen choreographies composed by the ensemble’s dance directors, Saundra Sarrouf and Jenna Mitchell.
“We do an upbeat song towards the end of the suite, and it’s a really cool percussion piece that is really loud and a different beat from what we normally play,” psychology senior and Arab Music Ensemble percussionist Eva Lovelace said.
The music in the suite will be sung in Arabic and arranged from soft to loud.
“The hardest part for us would be to sing in Arabic — the language is tough, but it’s going to be fun,” Davis said. “I’ve done this a couple of times with Dr. Habib. The crowd loves it. It’s a really neat thing to do.”
The suite includes instrumental solos, a percussion solo and vocal solos by performers from each group.
“The show is going to be exciting, between the Arab Music Ensemble, PolyPhonics singers plus the dancers for a couple of songs,” Lovelace said. “I think it will be very interesting and there will never be a dull moment,” Lovelace said.
Performers don’t have to be music majors, either.
“95 percent of the people on stage are not music majors,” Davies said. “I’ve got engineers, architects, math and science. All the colleges are represented.”
Electrical engineering senior and PolyPhonics bass singer Christopher Tan is looking forward to the show.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s going to be oh so worth it in the end,” Tan said. “The show is entertaining on both ends.”
The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $14 for the general public and $9 and $12 for senior citizens and students.