By Adriana Salazar
Almost immediately after the song started, the audience let themselves be overtaken by the rhythm flowing through them. It hit them like a fog, engulfing their bodies’ whole as it slithered through their skin.
From the tips of their tapping feet, it crawled up to their hips as they swayed side to side. Then their hands that let themselves be overtaken as they clapped to the beat. The faces of the audience twisted into jubilant expressions before breaking into almost primal shouts.
Thursday, April 24, the Brookhaven College Latin Percussion Ensemble performed in the Performance Hall lobby.
“Wooooooooooooo,” cheered Silvia Meiss, mother of Alexander Rosenblad, one of the many student percussionists in the ensemble. Even the more reserved members of the audience kept the time with subtle twitches of their fingers.
This was the first time for many of the ensemble members to per- form songs outside the realm of South American rhythms, such as those from the Caribbean and Africa, Padilla-Santiago said.
It was an hour-long demonstration of what they had learned in the percussion ensemble class. Many students entered the class not knowing anything about Latin music culture, but that is what Brookhaven music professor Georgie Padilla-Santiago’s class is all about.
“This is what we do in class,” Padilla Santiago said. Students explore different rhythms and learn the sometimes difficult tasks of playing their instruments, he said. The important thing is their desire to learn. Padilla-Santiago was born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents and has been performing since he was 12 years old. He has lived in Texas for four years, taught music at Alamo Community College in San Antonio and is now adjunct faculty at the Brookhaven music department.
The class is going to be held again next semester, and Padilla- Santiago said he is hoping for new faces. “I’m a musician myself,” Santiago said. “It’s going to help me with my rhythm and expand into world music and different cultures and different music,” said Brookhaven student and ensemble member Lee Herrera.
As the music went on, Padilla- Santiago invited the audience stand to up and dance, making the audience part of the performance. “We musicians like the people to enjoy the music,” Padilla-Santiago said. “Get into the music. Be part of it. That is what we want. We want you to be part of this. I always see music that way, and what we do is for dancing … if you feel like dancing, dance. I don’t care.”
Audience member Javier Galvan said, “It was awesome; I have to say my favorite was [the song] ‘Africa’ because it was so immersive.” The lively performance ended with the well-known song in the Latin community “La Vida es un Carnival,” [Life is a Carnival]. The performance was a hit among the audience. They yelled in imperfect Spanish in hopes that the party would not stop: “No, un mas. Un mas. Por favor, uno mas,” said the audience almost in unison.