World Music Series brings the Balkans to students

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Brenden Tuccinardi

The night's music featured Balkan sounds.

by Brenden Tuccinardi, Engagement Editor

Even with a hulking upright bass, an assortment of drums, accordion and violin lying on-stage, nothing could have prepared concert-goers for the night ahead. 

On Monday, Sept. 23 San Diego State’s School of Music & Dance hosted the semester’s second installment of the World Music Series in Smith Recital Hall featuring the music of the Balkans. 

The concert began like any other. Dromia, a San Diego-based group, took the stage and played their first song, a medley from the southern peninsula of Greece. After the group played the final note and the audience finished their applause, accordion player Dan Ziagos gave some context about the song they just completed. 

This is not out of the ordinary at World Music Series concerts, School of Music & Dance Professor Kevin Delgado said. 

“We see a variety of performance styles,” Delgado said. “Some performers write extensive program notes and they never speak on stage, but most performers do.”

The World Music Series Concerts, while open to the public, are required for students taking Music 345: World Music in Contemporary Society. 

“I’ve always been into music,” junior accounting major Leonardo Godinez said. “This exposes me to different types from different cultures. I highly recommend this class.”

Delgado, who teaches this online course, said the live performance component of the course is essential for students to personalize otherwise impersonal music.

“There’s a lot of impersonal music streaming to us through our devices,” Delgado said. “Anybody can go to YouTube and look of West African music, for example, but when you come to see a group here, you see, first of all, how an instrument is played, what it sounds like. You hear the people on stage talking about the music and what it means to them. You see their energy.”

The members of Dromia delivered a very energetic performance, playing 15 songs over the entire hour, each one telling a different story both lyrically and musically. Ziagos said the music the group was playing is not something you would hear every day. 

“We play music that is stylistically very different from what people would ordinarily listen to,” Ziagos said. “Our music, hopefully, brings more awareness to different cultures and their music.”

World Music Series features music from around the globe. Next Monday, students will be transported to West Africa, then on Oct. 7 to China and then off to Ireland on Oct. 14. 

The final performance in the series on Dec. 12 will feature SDSU’s Indonesian orchestra, Javanese Gamelan, the university’s only world music performing ensemble. 

“The music of the world is at everybody’s fingertips,” Delgado said. “But to see a performance live, in person, is different.”

The next World Music Series performance is Monday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. in Smith Recital Hall and will feature performances from the West African group Sene Africa. 

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