WMU News

Larson brings 'Contemporary World Music' to WMU

Nov. 1, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Rhonda Larson and Ventus will make their Michigan debut performing their "Contemporary World Music" program in WMU's Dalton Center Recital Hall beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9.

Tickets are $15 general admission and $5 for students/senior citizens, and available through the Miller Auditorium ticket office at 616 387-2300 or toll free at 800 228-9858. The concert is presented by the Jazz Studies Program in the WMU School of Music.

Flutist Rhonda Larson, a Montana native, won first prize in the National Flute Association's Young Artist Competition resulting in a debut in Carnegie's Recital Hall prior to her senior year of university study. She was invited by Paul Winter to be a member of his Consort at the end of that year, and spent six years recording, producing, and performing worldwide. The association culminated in winning her own Grammy Award for her work with that group. Larson subsequently parted company with the Consort and began creating her own music.

One year ago, Rhonda left her Band in Connecticut, moved to Michigan along with her new husband, WMU professor Lee J. deLisle, and formed a new band, Ventus, comprised of past and present WMU affiliated musicians. They were invited to Minsk, Belarus, in July for a performance under the auspices of the U.S. Embassy -- a perfect fit for Larson, given that her forte is using music as a medium to address the shared experiences of the human soul.

Ventus, Latin for wind, describes the essence of Larson's approach to music: "Musical creativity invites spiritual expression through the very act of breathing ­ especially if you are a flutist." Rhonda's hallmark is her virtuosic ability to play both melody and harmony simultaneously on the flute. Creatively, her emphasis is on merging divergent musical genres, including elements of sacred, classical, jazz, folk, Celtic and ethnic music. Rhonda Larson and Ventus' music has been described as having the melodic accessibility of Loreena McKennitt, Metheny-esque harmonies, exotic African and Middle Eastern percussion, and a Celtic sense of celebration. Ventus is comprised of Rob Cookman on keyboards, WMU professor Tom Knific on bass, acoustic guitarist Sam Smiley, and Carolyn Koebel on various hand percussion. Larson performs on the familiar western European flute, plus an array of ethnic flutes from around the world.

For further information on the artist and program, contact Lee J. deLisle at 616 387-2669 or at <lee.deLisle@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Kevin West, 616 387-4678, kevin.west@wmich.edu

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