BY TIMOTHY BULLOCK
On Saturday, MSUM hosted the third event of the Cheryl Nelson Lossett Performing Arts Series with “Music of the Sun.” For the performance, ETHEL, a pioneering string quartet, teamed up with Robert Mirabal, a Grammy winning Native American flutist.
Not only did these musicians fill the Gaede Stage with lively music and interesting stories, but they also spoke of making warm friends in cold places.
ETHEL’s music brought the room to life, not only because of their unique sound, but because of the interesting stories that accompanied the pieces. Robert Mirabal introduced all of the songs with a Native American story. For example, the song “Quiet Season” is about how Mirabal’s people regard the beginning of December to the middle of January as a quiet time. During this quiet time, there are restrictions on what can be done during the day. Then at night, they have special ceremonies during the time the Earth is resting.
Halfway through the program, Mirabal shared what he called the “secret of his people.” To an unsuspecting audience he said, “the secret of my people is corn.” Understandably, this brought a few laughs, but he explained further by saying that the root of his people’s ceremonies was food.
“Not so much today,” he said, “but to our ancestors, food was scarce and sacred.”
This and other Native American stories Mirabal told gave already beautiful music even more gravity.
Throughout the performance, the strings of ETHEL and the numerous flutes that Mirabal used merged to fill the entire concert space with the sounds of a Native American ceremony.
Even on a cold snowy night on campus, it seemed as if you could feel the warmth of a bonfire as the music played.