Learn from Traveling Musical Innovators

The number and types of musical instruments coupled with the sounds they make were more than enough to provide the audience with a soundscape of new world vibrations when composer John Zeretzke gave a mini-concert and workshop at Sisson School Friday afternoon. As part of his Music, Art, and Innovation Tour of Northern California, Zeretzke presented an overview of some of the musical changes and traditions from around the world as they relate to different types of art.

His 45-minute session kept the gym full of students in a state of heightened curiosity and appreciation as indicated by the intervals of total silence and full applause. With a recording studio quality sound system and a synchronized slide show, the work of famous artists was featured as it relates to musical innovators.

Zeretzke is an American composer, artist, musician, and educator with a passion for world music and exotic instruments. He has written numerous ballets and dance scores while relishing breaking new ground whenever possible. “In creating and working with new concepts, doors are opened that would not have been otherwise,” Zeretzke said. “I enjoy the process of tweaking the mind as much as the discovery that invariably results. And more often than not, it turns out to be something we couldn’t imagine when we started.”

One of the pieces Zeretzke played was inspired by the art of Jackson Pollack. Les Paul, the father of the modern electric guitar, was also honored, as was minimalist composer Phillip Glass. Zeretzke and six student volunteers performed a piece of nature music. With direction from Zeretzke, the students used rocks, rain sticks, a bolt chime, and some primitive percussion to improvise music that sounded like it was coming from a rainforest.

He concluded his one-man ensemble presentation with a rendition of The Star Spangled Banner on his electric violin in the tradition of Jimi Hendrix. Following the formal session, Zeretzke conducted a workshop on the power of vibration and the nature of musical sounds with approximately 20 students. Ute Micklos, a teacher at Sisson School who met Zeretzke a few years ago at College of the Siskiyous, served to make the Mount Shasta presentation possible.

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