Johnathan Swensen is a Danish-American classical cellist. He is an emerging performer in the classical world and this performance was a testament to that. The first thing that I would like to point out about this performance was that it was in a “salon style.” When I saw it described as such on the website, I was honestly a little confused as to what that means. I’ve been inside Foellinger Great Hall, but I’ve never heard of a performance that was in this salon style. Unfortunately, I had a discounted balcony seat but salon style puts the audience on stage with the performer. The entire stage is filled with chairs, leaving a small section for the performance. There are also refreshments such as wine and coffee offered. I found this super interesting but it made sense to me knowing a bit about the classical music world. It felt like a very “high class” or elitist event but I don’t mean to say that in a bad way. I love classical music, and I loved this concert.
Somi, an Urbana-Champaign native, performed in the Colwell Playhouse at KCPA on February 14, 2020. Her jazz performance sent a prominent message about being present and told a story of the diverse, culture-rich Harlem.
Written By Zackarya Faci
From the moment Somi stepped on stage there was nothing but positive vibes in the air. She prefaced the performance with a little background about herself; she would even ask the audience questions and build off that engagement. One could easily tell she was being genuine and sincere as her bright smile and cheerful laugh filled the performance hall. Somi is of Ugandan and Rwandan decent and grew up in Champaign, but she has since moved to New York. The songs she performed were from her latest album “Petite Afrique” (meaning little Africa in French), which pertains to the microcosm that is Harlem.
Somi, a vocalist and songwriter, brought a brilliant jazz performance with her band on Friday, February 14, 2020, at Colwell Playhouse, Krannert Center.
Written by Bingchen Li
At this romantic Friday, Somi and her band brought a brilliant jazz performance to the Colwell Playhouse. On this special day, we can witness lots of young and elder couples watched this show with a loved one, what a meaningful date!
Somi was born in Champaign, Illinois, and her latest album Petite Afrique won the 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. She is an amazing story-teller and she combines African music element to the jazz that you can hear the calling sound from an African tribe and metropolis.
On Valentine’s Day of 2020, the jazz band Somi delivered an amazing performance at the Colwell Playhouse of the Krannert Center of the Performing Arts. Her beautiful voice, the amazing improvisation of different instruments, their collaboration, as well as the ideals of inclusiveness deeply ingrained in their music, made the audiences truly fall in love with the performance and the band.
“African grooves, supple jazz singing, and compassionate social consciousness; she is both serious and seductive. ” – The New York Times
Somi, an American Jazz singer who was born in Champaign, IL, gave her appealing performance on Feb.14th 2020 at Krannert Center for Performing Arts. She has built a career of transatlantic sonics and storytelling. Her album, telling her story of being an African immigrant family won a 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. She has been recognized as “the quintessential artist citizen of the world”.
On February 7, 2020 at 7:30pm, the Colwell Playhouse in the Kranner Center for the Performing Arts Presented a spectacular performance entitled “ Step Afrika ! : Drumfolk”. This performance brought about expression through body movements, stepping to be more specific, when drums were taken away from African Americans through a legislative law in America in 1740.
Written by Lydia Amezcua-Ramirez
History of the Drum
For African Americans, the drum symbolized community, resilience, and determination throughout history in America. When that instrument of theirs was banned, they decided to use their bodies as a means to produce another form of music to express their messages. In the performance, the dancers would chant “they took away our drums..but they could not stop the beat”, and would use their body movements to illustrate that. This showed the idea of freedom and resistance as soon as they began to chant that and continued to express themselves in other ways possible.
Dance as an instrument
The dancers would conduct movements with their bodies using heavy stepping, tapping, clapping, and more which brought the message across that they would not be defeated, showing defiance against the legislation and their determination to continue creating rhythm. The dances that were performed were strongly executed which to me proved the confidence that all dancers should have to deliver their performance well.
As shown in the picture above, the dancers use exaggerated arm and leg movements to showcase the severity and the magnitude of their message through dance. The dancers worked together to bring across a strong performance in each act, staying on cue with one another in terms of body movement and facial expression. This is an example of the dancers using their bodies as instruments because they were making sounds using different parts of their bodies.
At the very end of the performance a sense of community was shown throughout the audience. Everyone from the audience gradually stood up to give the performers the standing ovation that they truly deserved for their amazing performance. Not only this, but throughout the performance the performers would ask one side of the audience to clap along with their hands and the other side of the audience would be asked to clap too, but in a distinct rhythm. A standing ovation from everyone was well deserved to the performers who claimed it was only their third time performing. This was a performance that everyone must see if they get the chance to because I know I got chills since the very beginning of it.
Drumfolk is a highly impressive performance that brought by Step Afrika, the world’s first professional company dedicated to the tradition of steeping. Performers will use their own bodies as an instrument to create their own beat. The Drumfolk was performed on February 6th at Colwell Playhouse
Written by Bingchen Li
Bodies as instruments
Drumfolk brought the spirit and energy to everyone in the show. The reason why performers use their own bodies as an instrument is because of the banning of the drum in 1740. We all know that we have a really dark and grieved history back to that uncivilized time. African Americans cannot use drums because of discrimination. However, as Dr. David said “They took the drums away… but they could not stop the beat.” Even they physically could not play the drum, but they could steeping!
Drumfolk: The second work by Step Afrika! that chronicles and celebrates the African-American experience in early America. With extensive research and years of percussive practice, Drumfolk explores historical events and the use of the drum as an instrument of community, resilience, and determination.
Written by Zackarya Faci
Drumfolk, by Step Afrika!, was performed in the Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on February 7th, 2020. It was a tense performance as they told a story of oppression and perseverance. Using their voice, bodies, drums, and dance, they were able to recreate the emotions felt by many Africans in the 1740s. It was around this time that their freedom and culture was being restricted as a result of the actions of the Stono Rebellion. As seen in the performance, many Africans would not be easily suppressed and fought back against the new restrictions.