Making a Joyful Noise at the Divinity School

For an interfaith spiritual boost – combined with a little calypso and klezmer music – the Yale University Divinity School will host a worship service on Thursday morning, April 11, 9:15-10:15 a.m., featuring a troupe of exuberant steel drummers. The ensemble, “Pandemonium,” will perform folk and liturgical music with an international flavor, before and during the worship service. Afterward, they will perform a brief concert of secular music from their regular repertoire. This program free and open to all.

Pandemonium is based at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, with a membership that ebbs and flows between 10 and 20 musicians. They perform on “pans”– tuned, multi-pitch instruments made from industrial 55-gallon drums. The pans, which originated in Trinidad, are grouped in sets of different ranges and sonorities and accompanied by a percussion section of such power that it’s called the “engine room.” The metallic chimes, with their pulsing backup beat, are practically synonymous with carnival time in Trinidad and dancing, everywhere. Pandemonium’s repertoire includes Trinidad-style calypso as well as Brazilian bossa nova and samba batucada, Haitian rara, Cuban comparsa, and Jewish klezmer.

The ensemble is directed by Gage Averill, an ethnomusicologist in Wesleyan’s Department of Music. A specialist in Caribbean music, Mr. Averill is author of academic works on the subject and is a regular columnist for “The Beat” magazine, which reviews reggae and Afro-Caribbean music.

The musical service will take place in the Marquand Chapel of the Divinity School or outdoors, if weather permits. It is organized by “Other Voices/Other Visions,” an interfaith student organization affiliated with Yale Divinity School. Sponsors of the event are the Yale Divinity School Community Life Committee, Berkeley Divinity School, the Institute of Sacred Music, and the Yale Divinity School Associate Dean of Student Life.

The student convener of “Other Voices/Other Visions” is Peggy S. Block, a third year M.Div. student. After graduation from Yale this year and an internship next year, Ms. Block plans to be ordained into the Unitarian Universalist ministry and continue working on interfaith programs in both the church and the community.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325