By Jesse Belleque
Sonic mayhem lasted long into the night of Sept. 18 in the sanctuary of Sisters Community Church.
On the second evening of Corban University’s Music Department retreat, a weekend for music students and staff, a simple dessert erupted into a night of improvisation and dancing.
Senior percussionist Amber Meeker, while performing the menial task of tending snacks, began tapping out a beat with butter knives on the mixing bowls. What happened next was nothing short of “the best moment of my life,” Meeker said. Those serving alongside her picked up kitchen utensils of their own and joined in.
After a short time, the kitchen was filled with improvised percussion, and a crowd, mostly other music students, had gathered outside of the serving window.
Soon the penetrating sounds of an electric guitar and piano could be heard over the
rhythmic clattering of cooking implements. The crowd, led by the kitchen percussionists, then moved over to the stage where a four piece band was adding a musical spin to the steady beat.
“I noticed several of the upperclassmen who had started the whole thing just standing in the middle of the group, watching and smiling,” said student Miriam Stapp.
She quickly realized the musical moment was a representation of real life: “The older people started it and had their fun time, and then the younger guys came in and did it their own way, while the older people stood back and watched.”
Those in the audience began dancing to the standard 12- bar blues, embellished by Andrew Norman’s unconventional keyboard riffs, Jason Pluemke’s invigorating drumbeats, Katie Baker’s thumping bass lines and Jesse Belleque’s Hendrix-influenced blues guitar.
While the evening’s events were student-led, music faculty in charge of the retreat also
contributed to the sonic madness. Not surprisingly, it was band director Brian Griffiths who finally prompted students to end the jam session, which otherwise would have continued even longer into the night.
In a comical final address at the retreat, Meeker stated, “You have made one of my dreams come true, legitimately, as dumb as it sounds – to have me hit stuff, and have everybody else hit stuff and not just sit around saying, ‘Amber shut up.’ The coolest thing ever.”