Throwback Thursday: CalArts Percussion Ensemble Circa 1979

In the spirit of “Throwback Thursdays,” 24700 occasionally posts photos and items found in CalArts’ Institute Archives.

The first two photos in the slideshow above feature the CalArts Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of the late faculty member John Bergamo, from April 1979. A closer inspection reveals some recognizable faces: late faculty member Arthur Jarvinen (MFA 81), Leonice Shinemann (BFA 80, MFA 82), Jim Snodgrass (BFA 80), Bob Fernandez (BFA 78, MFA 80), Donna DeStefano and Christopher Garcia (80).

The ensemble was rehearsing composer George Antheil’s 1924 masterpiece, Ballet Mécanique, which the musicians were invited to perform at the 1979 Ojai Music Festival, says Garcia via email.

That year, the group performed at a percussion ensemble competition at San Jose State University where 20 to 25 universities west of the Mississippi River competed. The students took home awards for solo, duo and ensemble performances. Garcia recalls:

Some schools had matching uniforms—we didn’t. Some schools had matching drum colors—we didn’t. Some schools played Bach and Handel on marimbas—we didn’t. For the ensemble competition, we played Ed Mann’s (BFA 76) Three Fro for hand percussion, John Bergamo’s Interactions for multiple percussion setups and Frank Zappa’s The Black Page Part 1 for mallets. At the time, our choices were questioned as being “legitimate.” [We asked Bergamo,] “How can [we] play Zappa when other schools will be performing Bach and Handel?” John replied, “The judges will probably be lost after the 3rd bar.”

For more information on how to access CalArts historical documents, photos, art, etc., visit the Institute Archive page.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)



  1. Michelle // //

    Would love to see what’s happening now? Do you ever blog about. Students there now. I’ve only read about alum coming back , isn’t there talent at calarts now?

  2. Christine N. Ziemba // //

    Yes! We try and cover as much as we can on all alumni, faculty and student fronts. Recently, we wrote about the School of Critical Studies’ Next Word series; The Collective’s recent Theater road trip to the Bay Area and Disney Imagineering working with Dance students to name a few

    Thanks for reading!