Harmonic Convergence

What happens when a group of faculty members attends dinner with the board of trustees? Well, in the case of our recent board of trustees’ weekend here at Williston, a convivial dinner on Friday evening ended with a presentation by faculty member Ben Demerath about the two weeks he spent in Ghana last summer through the auspices of the Williston+ Program. For those who know Mr. Demerath as our music director and the driving force of our students’ singing at Fenway Park, you might not know of his academic interest in ethnomusicology and how music can provide an ideal means for globalizing our students’ educations.

Always an inspirational teacher, Mr. Demerath tested his prowess by asking members of the board to participate in a performance on the instruments with which he returned this summer. While one intrepid volunteer played the axatse (a-HAT-say), a shaker made from a gourd covered with beads, another accompanied on the gatingo, a two-toned iron bell. Fittingly, Mr. Demerath played the lead drum, the boba, remarkable not just for its sound but also for its intricate carvings and craftsmanship. Finally, I was on the kagan, which is the highest-pitched of the drums we now have in our collection. In all, Williston owns three of each type of drum, including the kagan, the kidi (a mid-sized drum), and the sogo (the lower pitched drum). We also have five of the bells and eight of the gourd shakers.

It should be fascinating to hear what Mr. Demerath accomplishes this year with his students—it will no doubt top the efforts of the impromptu adult group!

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