Connecting with our Instruments and Each Other

Digital Ambassador Emilio Yáñez Ruíz tells us about his favourite moments from the past few weeks.

Mid-year recess is here, most assessments are done and although it seems as if 2022 has only just begun, students throughout college are starting to plan their final recitals and portfolios. Spring term seems to fly by swifter than ever, and yet, there have been great events and experiences that will probably remain in our memories for a long time.

For me, one of those moments was RNCM Day of Percussion.

RNCM Day of PercussionOn Sunday 6 February, the RNCM hosted a full day of clinics, workshops and concerts, all dedicated to percussion enthusiasts. From orchestral instruments like Timpani and the Xylophone, to Jazz Drumming, Indian-Carnatic Vocal Percussion, and Japanese Taiko, the gala concert performed by the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers.

Such an exciting event reminds us that rhythm is an essential part of music. Rhythm gives sound an order in time, and the space in between each note is what we perceive as pulse.Rhythm doesn’t need notes and pitches to exist, but without rhythm, notes would last forever or be lost in time. For this reason, we have percussion instruments, the heartbeat of any ensemble.

RNCM Day of PercussionNo wonder native traditions from all over the world have drums as core instruments alongside singers. It is human. The Taiko Drumming concert made this clear to me. We felt the pulse and trance of the rhythms; everyone in the room was suddenly connected. The physicality of the playing showed us how the energy of the full body must be engaged, like a ritual of togetherness. The beating of the massive drums and letting go of whatever we were holding onto; enjoying the present moment.

As a composer and a percussionist myself, this concert was a calling back to my roots, a calling to make music to connect with people and to share our cultures; so I brought that feeling to my subsequent rehearsals. For me, one of the best things at RNCM is having the Pop Course alongside the Classical Course, and when they come together, great things happen.

Afro-Beat, Jazz, and World Music are probably my favourite musical genres and, luckily, I’ve found people at RNCM that share these interests. I am excited to be part of two bands that are making their way into these styles and genres.

Pandemonium, an Afro-Beat band created by current second year undergraduate students form the Pop Course, features Finlay Mactaggart on keys, Louis Reilly on Drums, Vivien Griffin on Bass, Reuben Savage on Guitar, Oscar Williams on Congas and Jam-Blocks, Leo Parry on Trumpet, Jasmine Brown on Alto and Baritone Sax, Matthew Hodson on Alto Sax, Zack Smith on Tenor Sax and on the Shekere and Claves.

The Fusion Ensemble is a World Music 13-piece band created by current third year undergraduates, featuring Maria Rocha on Guitar, Alejandro Urbina on Bass, Finlay Mactaggart on keys, Louis Reilly on Drums, Hope Rodenhurst on Flute, John Kelly on Clarinet, Leo Parry on Trumpet, Sam Lightwing on Tenor  Sax, myself on Cajon and Shakers, and the amazing Ayla String Quartet, with Elena Orsi on first violin, Piá Bromby on second violin, Hannah  Borlase on Viola, and Kara Taylor on Cello.

Both cross-school bands are getting ready to have everybody dancing to world rhythms and killer horn lines. We are planning a concert next term so look out for an announcement soon!

Emilio Yáñez Ruíz

So here we are, mid-year recess, a well-deserved break after some intense first weeks of term. It is time to start creating a vision of what soon will be summer term. Some students will be graduating, and I wish them all the best in their future careers. Like me, some still have a couple of years ahead. For now, I will enjoy the rest of the year, writing and making music, attending concerts and lectures, listening and feeling all that music has to offer and being grateful for the opportunity of being part of this lovely and wide community.

‘What a best way to pass the time than feeling alive, making music with friends.’

Thank you for reading,

Emilio Yáñez Ruíz

BMus Composition

18 February 2022