On October 7, Ross students, faculty, and members of the community gathered in Gandhi Hall to create an inspiring rendition of Terry Riley’s In C. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the composer’s seminal minimalist work, and Dr. Dave Morgan, dean of Science, and Adam Judd, dean of Performing Arts, organized the event to celebrate the occasion. Other participants included students Katie Morgan ’16, Dorothy Li '16, and Caio Garcia ’15; Performing Arts Teachers Mike Guglielmo, Rob Davies, and Maureen Isbister; Carter Burwell, Ross parent and professional composer; Jake Cockrell, associate; and Margaret Bodkin, former music teacher at the Lower School.
“In C is a piece that appeals to rock musicians, jazz musicians, and classical musicians alike, and we had representatives from each of those styles in the mix on Tuesday. Everyone in the group had a really good time," Dave said.
In C consists of 53 measures of music, all in the key of C. An ensemble of any number of players of any instruments begins playing the first measure, which is then repeated for as long as each player desires. Every musician decides when to move on to the next measure, and, again, plays that measure for as long as he or she wishes. The result is a piece of music with constantly shifting musical patterns that will never be played exactly the same way twice, but is always instantly recognizable as In C.
To the delight of the spectators, the group played the piece for nearly 45 minutes on instruments including keyboard, piano, electric guitar, electric bass, trombone, cello, and accordion. Mike, who played percussion for the performance, incorporated an array of standard and nontraditional “instruments,” including the steel ceiling supports, which he tapped his drumsticks on, and a selection of children’s toys, including a musical cylinder that he rolled across the floor repeatedly during the performance. Toward the end of the piece, he passed around instruments to the audience, including Founding Mentor Bill Thompson and Lower School students in attendance. The result was an entertaining and unique community experience.
"Performing In C is a really one-of-a-kind experience for a musician to have, and something I've always wanted to do. One of the great things about Ross is that a Science teacher can organize a musical performance, and nobody thinks it's unusual. Everyone just jumps on board. Adam was really supportive and helpful in making the performance happen, and we were able to put together a really diverse group of musicians who were excited to participate,” Dave said.