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R.O.M.E. brings cultures together though musical feast


 Ablawa Reine Akpovo

Staff writer


Rome’s Own Musical Ensembles (R.O.M.E.) is bringing new sounds to Rome.

This year, “Across the Big Pond XII: Gael Force WINDS” will take place on Saturday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m., at the Rome Forum with free admission.

“This year’s Big Pond show will be a bit more international,” said Sam Baltzer, artistic director and conductor.

R.O.M.E is a non-profit organization created in 2001 to showcase musical groups and produce an annual concert series. Baltzer said that guests vary each year. This year, he is presenting performers such as a concert band, some Irish dancers, one or two bagpipe bands, Trey Smagur (a Shorter senior vocal performance major) as an Irish tenor and the upper grades class from The Montessori School of Rome.

Every year since 1999, R.O.M.E has presented a concert called “Across the Big Pond,” which became a popular event. The concert moved from the Rome City Auditorium to a bigger location, the Rome Forum. Baltzer said that the original programs showcased music from the United Kingdom but now focus on Celtic music.

He decided to include some African music in this year’s repertoire after he saw the Montessori students perform some African folk songs during their Christmas concert last December.

“I was very impressed with the music so I invited them to perform,” he said.

Baltzer said bringing variety into the Big Pond show is in line with the tradition of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo show; both now feature multiple talents from around the world.

Shemi Kumar, principal of The Montessori School of Rome, is excited to see her students participate in this concert. She said her students will perform some sets of African play songs from Benin, Kenya, as well as other parts of Africa.

Kumar is grateful to have an African music specialist who is also a Shorter student who volunteers her free time to work with her students and help them learn about various African cultures.

Kumar said building a relationship with professional musicians will help enhance the students’ talents.

“It will give them confidence and strengthen their performance skills. My students have so many talents and there is so much more they can do.”

According to Baltzer, there is a difference between listening to music on radio or devices and experiencing it live. He encourages all students to come enjoy this fun and moving music, and he invites them to go beyond their own expectations by trying out these new styles of music.

“I think some people spend so much time social networking that they have no time left for actual socializing,” said Baltzer. “I recommend turning off your electronics, calling up friends and coming out to one of our concerts. Across the Big Pond is a great place to start!”

For more information about the concert, contact Baltzer at sbaltzer@ shorter.edu.