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Glen Velez, a Grammy Award-winning frame drummer, composer, scholar, and teacher, will usher in the Sound Alternatives concert series at 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 20, at Lafayette College’s Williams Center for the Arts. The performance will include a wide array of musical effects from the ancient Mediterranean world and beyond, featuring drumming by Velez’ ensemble, Handance, along with the saxophone playing of jazz great Sonny Fortune.

Tickets for the concert are $15 and may be purchased by calling the Williams Center box office, (610) 330-5009.

In addition to the concert, the musicians will give two free presentations at the Williams Center that are open to the general public, a drum-circle workshop at 6 p.m. prior to the concert (bring your drums!), and a lecture-demonstration at 11 a.m. the following morning for students in the World Music class taught by Larry Stockton, professor and head of music.

Velez has created his own musical style, inspired by both Western percussion and frame drum performance styles from around the world. His concerts include an array of instruments such as the Egyptian riq (a small, intricately inlaid tambourine), the Irish bodhran (a large single-headed drum), and the North African tar (often seen in the hands of desert nomads). Often globe-trotting on an international touring schedule that has taken him to six continents, Velez has been voted “Best World Beat Percussionist.” With a 1999 Drummies award by DRUM! magazine, he has emerged as an international soloist and seminal figure in the history of the frame drum.

After 15 years of performing and recording with Steve Reich (1973-1988) and Paul Winter (1983-1998), Velez works as a soloist while continuing to collaborate with a variety of top-notch professionals in many genres. Twentieth-century music guru John Cage wrote a piece for him in 1989, and he has played with notables such as Pat Metheny, Richard Stoltzman, Suzanne Vega, Howard Levy, Zakir Hussain, Oregon, and Airto.

Velez’ own compositions have been featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and John Schaefer’s New Sounds, and have been commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation, Jerome Foundation, and Reader’s Digest. He has written music for theater and dance, and recorded hundreds of albums on ECM, CBS, RCA, GRP, Warner Brothers, Deutsche Gramophone, Geffen, Nonesuch, Capital, and Sony. In addition, he has several instructional videos and ten recordings of his own music on CMP, Music of the World, Sounds True, Interworld, and Ellipsis Arts. Velez also has designed his own signature series of frame drums for the Remo Drum Company.

Handance member Shane Shanahan has performed and presented workshops in many parts of the United States as a soloist and as a member of a diverse range of ensembles. He has toured with contemporary percussion ensembles, African drumming groups, Indonesian gamelans, folk singers, steel drum bands, harmonic singing groups, free improvisation ensembles, orchestras, a rock band, and jazz ensembles. He also has collaborated with a wide variety of dancers, from modern dancers to Turkish belly dancers to North Indian Kathak dancers. He has toured in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Turkey. During the past spring semester, Shanahan was head of the percussion department at the Hartt School, University of Hartford. He began playing with Velez in the summer of 1998.

Fellow Handance member Yousif Sheronik is a global music specialist performing throughout the United States and Europe as a soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative artist. For the past three seasons, he has toured extensively with the Ethos Percussion Group. His fascination with world percussion has him performing Sephardic music with Alhambra and folk Italian music with I Giullari di Piazza, serving as artist in residence at New York’s Cathedral St. John the Divine, a member of the Ensemble For Early Music, and collaborating with jazz artists Stefan Harris and Sam Newsome and Klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer. He has also been heard on National Public Radio’s Performance Today and John Shaffer’s New Sounds. Sheronick is a clinician for the Remo Drum Company and has given master classes at The Juilliard School, Berklee College of Music, Mannes, University of Iowa, and Aaron Copland School of Music. He has recorded for Ellipsis Arts, Koch International, PGM, Newport Classics, Interworld Music, and Pro Organo.

Fortune has recorded with such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones, Oliver Nelson, George Benson, and Nat Adderly. He was featured on the live LP recorded at drummer Buddy Rich’s nightspot, Buddy’s Place, and in September 1974 he began a year of playing with Miles Davis’ fusion group, recording four albums in that time. In June 1975 Fortune formed his own group, marking his debut as leader with two critically acclaimed LPs for A&M Horizon, Awakening and Waves of Dreams. He has had many albums released since then, and continues to lead his own quartet. In addition, over the past ten years, Fortune played with the Nat Adderly Quintet for about two years and was a featured soloist with the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine on and off for approximately seven years. In 1987-88, he was part of the Coltrane Legacy Band that also featured McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, and Reggie Workman.
Sound Alternatives continues on November 7 with the Bang On A Can All-Stars, who combine the classical, rock, and jazz genres. Mogauwane Mahloele and Famoudou Don Moye celebrate African musical traditions on February 2, while Sufi Music of Damascus brings sacred music and dance on March 20. Composer Steve Reich and his ensemble of nine musicians complete the series with an April 4 performance. The price of Sound Alternatives is $69, a $17 savings off the total cost of the individual concerts. Subscribers also receive priority seating.

All performances begin at 8 p.m. Single ticket orders for concerts are being filled. Tickets for a series or individual event may be ordered by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.
The 2000-2001 Performance Series at Lafayette College is sponsored, in part, by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts.

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