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BC hosts Panorama Creative Music Summit

Professor Kris Tiner closes out the Nakatani Gong Orchestra as the final performance of the night. (Jared Buys)

It was a moderately-crowded scene at the Simonsen Performing Arts Center at Bakersfield College on the evening of Sept. 21 as the Panorama Creative Music Summit. With several musical acts to perform, the night began with cordial introductions as the first piece was readied.

This first piece, “In C” by composer Terry Riley, started with rhythmic tones looping again and again with subtle yet rapidly evolving variations. The brass section rang out, contrasting woodwinds that chimed aside it. Then came accordion and light percussion. The piece went along for some time with no significant crescendos or decrescendos. Though it was musically dissonant in some places, it was paired with expert precision that made the air feel as though the audience were seated inside an enormous clock.

Then came sharp, staccato flute tones that sounded among a continuously plinking piano’s C note, hence the piece’s name. Once that came, a sudden upswell of crescendo as the chorus of instruments grew. Bits of electric guitar set a melodic pace as a cello set a bassline throughout.

Later, a chime was struck that rang out reminiscent of a ship’s bell. The piece fluctuated in and out as it grew loud and soft and ended with a final, full-throated thrum, leaving only the metronome of plinking piano to fade off.

The song ended and the stage was reset for the second half of night. This next part was the Nakatani Gong Orchestra, led by its founder, Tatsuya Nakatani, who travels around to different places with his instruments, inviting students at the places he visits to man each station.

Tatsuya Nakatani’s merchandise kit display of items for sale. (Jared Buys)

The last piece consisted of a 16-piece gong orchestra, arrayed around Nakatani, who conducted said orchestra from the front.

Some students banged their gongs in a traditional sense, while others used custom-made bows that Nakatani built himself to run along the sides of the circular bronze instruments. Haunting, otherworldly sounds reverberated around the performing arts center for almost half an hour before Professor Kris Tiner, Director of Jazz Studies here at BC, closed out the P.C.M.S. with a Q &A, allowing Nakatani to have some interaction with the appreciative audience. Nakatani had his own merchandise and promotional material for sale at the front of the auditorium.

Those interested in following Nakatani’s work can find him at tatsuyanakatani.com.

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