Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

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Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ju Percussion September 27, 2013

Ju Percussion Group Brings the Rhythm of Taiwan to Cerritos

                    By Glen Creason

     I may have been one of the few in a large crowd at the Performing Arts Center who did not know what to expect when the Ju Percussion Group took the stage over the weekend. Thirteen polished musicians assembled on an impressively decorated stage setting where I expected something like taiko drumming. Instead, I was treated to an amazing percussion concert that included the big drums but for the most part complimenting a variety of vibes, marimbas, bongos, congas, snare drums, Western drum kits, and all manner of hand manipulated instruments including painted fans that doubled as sticks and visual images. The Ju Percussion group creates a thoroughly rehearsed and precision based sound that can reach thrilling heights and intimate nuances all in the same composition. There were no dull moments in this big show.
     The musical choices were eclectic and sometimes brilliantly juxtaposed to give texture and a refreshing variety to the program. This included music from Okinawa, the Balkans, Africa, Spain, Brazil, the United States and Taiwan where most of the troupe calls home. They ranged from the deeply mystical “Izanagi” by Koji Sajurai to the sweetly swinging “Attraction 2” to the visually dazzling  “Solar Myth” by native son Chang, Chiung Ying. The second half contained even more surprising musical moods including the decidedly lounge-smooth “3 Epilogues,” the Flamenco flavored “Calienta” and the glow in the mesmerizing dark fantasy of “Short Circuits.”  The final piece of the program, “Drumming Fest” returned to the traditional Chinese bass drums and proved a pulse quickener that hardly prepared the hall for the Chinese enhanced dreaminess of “Love Story for an encore.

      Although every single musician in the bakers dozen here were accomplished and strong there were standout marimba performances throughout from the beautiful Dr. Pei Ching Wu; a wonderful strength and smiling energy from director Shih San Wu and a remarkable solo from assistant director Hong Chi Ho in “To the God of Rhythm.”  Yet, even these remarkable talents stayed within the ensemble which found heights that only a group in harmony can find. That synergy drew a lengthy and standing ovation at evening’s end. 


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