The Crane Latin Ensemble, under the direction of Marsha Baxter, had excited audience members dancing in the aisles of Hosmer Hall during their performance on Thursday, April 10th. The group is comprised of the finest and most versatile musicians in Crane. They played a variety of Latin songs, focusing in on those made famous by familiar performers such as Carlos Santana and Gloria Estefan. Some songs, such as “Para los rumberos” and “Everybody’s everything” were performed by the full ensemble, which consists of vocalists, trumpets, saxophones, flute, violin, a percussion section, and other rhythm instruments. Other charts, including “Terriaki,” were played by smaller, more intimate, groups of instruments from the ensemble. The energy of the group was overwhelming, and perhaps the loud amplification of the instruments was unnecessary. Nevertheless, the blend of the group and the excitement they induced from the nearly 100 audience members was surely a change of pace from most Crane events.
The stage was flanked with tables and chairs to evoke a café setting, and brightly clad Phoenix Club singers sat in the chairs and at the edge of the stage. Half way through the Latin Ensemble’s set, they welcomed the ladies of Phoenix Club (a Crane choral group) to center stage to sing an a capella number. Although it was performed enthusiastically, it did not match the feel of the rest of the performance. The singers did help lighten the mood with their brightly colored shirts and dancing at the sides of the stage and in the aisles.
Thanks to the encouragement of the ensemble members and those dancing on stage, many audience members got out of their seats to try out new dance moves in the aisles. This is a sight rarely witnessed in Crane, where most programs are classical and audience is expected to behave in a more refined manner. At one point, a conga line even started to dance around the floor of the Hall, picking up more and more enlightened concertgoers as it went.
Seeing the Crane Latin Ensemble perform each semester is a new experience, as the group is constantly changing. Instead of having the ensemble conform to set instrumentation standards, the group adapts to fit which musicians are eligible and compatible with the group. This year has brought flute and violin into the group, as well as more vocalists and even an accordionist.