It’s rare for a percussionist to perform solo. But Sal Ferreras is no ordinary percussionist.
For many years, Ferreras performed with Safa, a Persian-based trio that has just released its latest CD and also formed the Latin America trio, The Southern Cross. In addition, he recently created a sextet that led a Latin American concert with the Vancouver Symphony and has collaborated in almost every genre on the Canadian music scene. In 2002, his pedigree as a musician, producer, teacher and composer earned him a place in the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame and landed him in countries worldwide.
No ordinary percussionist, anyone who attended his solo performance at Music in the Morning last week would agree.
The stage was festooned with instruments from marimba to vibraphone, guitar to high hat, cymbal to snare and from cowbell to triangle and things that go bump, bang, rattle and roll in between. He played them all and, at one time, used a bow in each hand to produce sounds reminiscent of a violin crossed with a theremin from the vibraphone. When he needed sheet music to play Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Chega de Saudade, he had to use a page-turner as every other part of his body was engaged in producing music. The man moves like a dancer. It’s a pleasure to watch him as much as to listen.
Ferreras’s program began with one of three pieces composed under his proper full name, Salvador Ferreras. The first, Raindrops, echoed Vancouver rains with delicate changes of speed and intensity, building to a crescendo, then diminishing by degrees until the final “drip, drop, plunk” evoked a sigh from the audience.
Ferreras played his second composition on the marimba with two large bass mallets in each hand. One mallet head was the size of a tennis ball and produced a soothing resonance to ease and balance the higher-pitched, electrical sound produced by the vibes.
The final example of Ferreras’s mercurial skill, extraordinary talent and versatility was the conclusion of his hour-long performance, capturing the atmosphere of a Cuban or Brazilian carnival street parade with drum orchestras numbering from 10 to 1,000 drummers. He began softly, with the recorded sound of crowds and music in the background. He then picked up two maracas and played softly, increasing in velocity and volume until he moved to the drums, the cymbals, and the bass pedal that taps rather than thumps. Finally, the cacophony peaked and gently subsided as the ‘band’ moved down the ‘street.’ It was a tour de force.
While the thought of an entire concert of compositions by Salvador Ferreras would be welcome, his ‘music in the morning’ interspersed with charming, self-deprecating humour shone in its own right.
The next Music in the Morning concert opens on March 14 and runs until March 17, with the Viano String Quartet in a deeply considered program called Voyager.
Then, from March 21 to 24, the June Goldsmith Quartet-in-Residence will be joined by Canadian luminary Martin Beaver who will join his former students, playing the viola in a program featuring the Dvorak String Quintet, Op. 97. The Viano String Quartet will pair this performance with Haydn’s Lark quintet.
Visit musicinthemorning.org for tickets and information.