The return of in-person performances for the School of Music and Dance has been a slow process to deal with the fluctuating difficulties of the pandemic. Fortunately, groups like the hip hop ensemble as well as two popular music ensembles once again have the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience.
“The popular music program here in Oregon has really grown over the past few years. It’s becoming, from what I’ve been told, one of the biggest departments in music school,” said Evan Hamada, GE of the No Name Pop Music Ensemble. These sets are a chance for musicians or anyone else who loves hip hop or popular music to gain experience in performing and expressing the joy of music.
“It’s a good choice for our school to have a band like this because we have a lot of people who play traditional instruments well, but we also have people who want to get involved in hip hop,” Toby Koenigsberg, the program director for the popular music department, said.
The hip hop ensemble has been around for eight years now and the group’s current instructor Sean Peterson was one of the original members when it started. Peterson, now a graduate employee of the pop department and the band’s instructor, helps coordinate their progress and performance. The set focuses more on the music and expressing the joy that comes with covering and creating hip hop and genre alignment.
“The hip hop ensemble draws from a wide range of styles because most of our members aren’t hip hop musicians, so we incorporate a lot of R&B and songwriting,” Peterson said.
The band almost sounds like a jazz combo with vocalists and MCs (masters of ceremonies) providing adlibs and words of wisdom over beats. The hip-hop group plans to do covers of Golden Age songs like A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick” as well as originals. The band’s vocalist and senior Alivia Nelson wrote the original song, “Four Corners” while in quarantine.
“I thought it would be fun to bring the song to the band because it has more of that hip hop vibe. And it was already missing a second verse and I was like, ‘Oh, that would be cool if our MC could add something of his own and complete the song,’ so it all worked out perfectly,” Nelson said.
The two popular music groups, one unnamed that performs indie folk music while the other named Sour Dream, will perform songs influenced by neo-soul and jazz. The two groups also mingle with originals as well as covers for the show.
“I think we hope to express a lot of different things, but I think the main thing is to have fun. I hope we express joy and good energy, but we’re just looking to entertain people,” said Avery Scanlon GE for Sour Dream.
The performance will highlight the songs that come from the hearts of the students and the joy that comes with sharing live music. “I hope this performance is just a chance to showcase the popular music department and the progress and opportunities it offers,” Hamada said.
The sound will be excellent during the performances as the show will take place in one of the best musical performance hall schools with an advanced sound system. The performance is going to be designed by the School of Music Sound Engineers to do justice to classic hip hop with a powerful bass and clear lyrics.
The ensembles will perform on February 17 in the Aasen-Hull Hall at 8 p.m. for students and the public with 30-minute sets from each group.