Despite technical difficulties, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche collaborates with SU musicians

The Setnor School of Music welcomed percussionist and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche Thursday night as part of their guest artist series.

Wilco drummer and composer Glenn Kotche powered through one technical difficulty after another to perform an eclectic batch of percussion-based numbers Thursday night in Setnor Auditorium.

The evening oscillated wildly from soft and melodic to pounding and frantic with something for everyone. The first number, a Balinese performance art piece called “Monkey Chant,” opened with pounding ferocity interchanging with delicate, resonating gongs to represent the different characters fighting one another. An psychedelic animated film was shown to accompany the piece, but the video froze half way to the dismay of the audience.

“I know this show will stick out in my memory for a long time.”
- Glenn Kotche

“You’ll have to imagine it,” Kotche said. “The video stopped working. Should I keep going anyway?” A cheer from the crowd was the answer that pushed the performance to the end, sans visual aid.

Syracuse musicians joined Kotche up on stage for a complete stage and sound overhaul with the zany cartoons and harsh drums replaced with well dressed players, Kotche in glasses and melodic, airy, gentle music. Followed by a single vibraphone player making the wooden auditorium sound like the inside of a music box.

“It’s been a great Thursday night so far,” said ESF paper engineering senior Kyle Dausman at the intermission. “Usually I’m just at home studying but this is a great way to get out. I’m really into this kind of music. It’s disappointing that the video didn’t work, but what can you do?”

Kotche then tried his luck again with video with plans to show the physical personification of the sound of drums with a recording he took of drums filled with water being played in a piece called “Individual Trains.” However, the video stalled yet again. After three attempts, the last ending in working video but no audio, the show went on without it.

“It wasn’t meant to be,” said Kotche, while his onstage companion played a “Wah wah wah” with his piano accordion.

The night’s closer was a stage full of musicians all playing different percussive instruments to produce a complex and bouncy Latin beat, complete with a man blowing a gym whistle. Musicians bounced and swayed even as they were playing to the infectious beat until its conclusion, which earned a standing ovation from the audience.

“It was awesome. That guy is amazing. I’ve never seen drums like that. I loved it,” said computer arts senior Mike Ahearn at the end of the show.

“He was insane. Two thumbs up. I loved it,” enthused his friend and VPA senior Christine Krumbach. “I came because my rehearsal got out early and I heard this guy was a big deal so I figured I’d go. I was so impressed. I was blown away. I’ve become a fan.”

Despite the hiccups, fans walked away happy and Kotche said he'd leave Syracuse remembering the evening.

“I know this show will stick out in my memory for a long time,” he said.

Kotche performed with the Syracuse University Percussion Ensemble as part of the Setnor School guest artist series, which has previously featured flute quartet Dolce Flutes and chamber music ensemble Dinosaur Annex Music.

Check out our interview with Glenn Kotche.

Glenn Kotche: Drummer, Percussionist, Composer from The NewsHouse on Vimeo.

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