If Obama wasn’t enough to make this year’s commencement an event to remember, the ceremony will be set to the beat of the Wesleyan taiko drumming ensemble. From the Hartford Courant:
When most schools celebrate commencement, it’s set to the soaring strains of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Not so at Wesleyan. Here, the students — as they do in so many ways — march to a different beat.
Specifically, the thundering beat of the campus’s Japanese taiko drumming ensemble, a style of music that traces its roots back 1,400 years. On Sunday the ensemble will play, or more accurately pound, the processional and recessional music at the university’s 176th commencement… It’s a send-off for graduates that’s undeniably different. And undeniably Wesleyan.
…And if the group’s Wednesday morning rehearsal was any indication, it’s a task they’re tackling with gusto.
Or are starting to, anyway. As students stumbled into the World Music Hall at 9:30 a.m. under the eye of Mark Rooney, the ensemble’s instructor, some were still wearing pajamas. A few looked bleary-eyed. “It was senior cocktails last night,” one of them explained.
But once Rooney got them onto the performance floor, they awoke. After a circle stretching session that included a minute of meditation and a chorus of yelling, the students, all barefoot, took up position, legs spread, arms extended, bachi — the drumsticks — in hand.
Then came the pounding. To call taiko drumming loud would be an understatement. It’s like a thunderstorm exploding in a small room. The performance hall reverberated as the bachi rose and fell, rhythmic as windmills, and the steady beat of the drums rolled like an adrenaline-fueled heartbeat from one wall to the other.
A video of what you can expect:
Undeniably Wesleyan, undeniably awesome.
Hartford Courant: Ancient Drum Music to Accompany Wes Grads