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Future of music hits note in Bemidji as MIDIots perform concert Thursday night

Greg Gaston, adjunct professor of percussion at Bemidji State University, plays drums for the MIDIots, who will perform an electronic concert tonight in Bangsberg Recital Hall. Patt Rall | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - Students, faculty and staff studying and working at the New York University campus in Washington Square Park back in the 1960s were talking about the new exhibit of art work at Loeb Student Center.

The exhibit space was crowded with jabbering onlookers, "What artist would think that painting Campbell Soup cans is art?" The excitement of that day remains a vivid memory, and if you want to have that same kind of memorable experience, don't miss the MIDIots concert at 7:30 tonight in Bangsberg Recital Hall, Birchmont Drive and 14th Street on the campus of Bemidji State University. Admission is free to all.

After coming off a successful series of musical events this past weekend: Blue Ice, the BSU Jazz Ensemble; BSU Brass Quintet and the BSU Symphonic Band, led by faculty from the music department, some of the same people will be back on stage to restate the obvious: This is where music is headed today and we at BSU are leading the pack.

Del Lyren spoke about the upcoming concert and where the trend is going.

"Electronic music is taking over now, recording studios, movie sound tracks and even pit orchestras for musical theater," said Lyren. "For example, pit orchestras are down to half of what they were 20 years ago. We are a one-of-a-kind group, trend setting and want to be the place where students will come to study electronic music."

After last year's budget cuts at BSU, some majors have disappeared while other departments challenged themselves to find a new focus.

Tenured and current faculty members from the music department formed an ensemble dedicated to the future of music and musical instruments.

Adjunct professor of percussion, Greg Gaston, spoke about the start of the music technology program at BSU back in 2002.

"The Music Technology program teaches students to integrate computers into the traditional ways of composing and performing music," said Gaston, one of only 50 people in the U.S. who have achieved Level II certification by the Technology Institute for Music Education.

A Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is simply a cable that allows an instrument to communicate with a computer. It was a trend that started years ago with electric guitars and synthesizers that has expanded to other instruments.

Lyren, the department chair, and Erika Svanoe, director of bands at BSU, will be playing electronic wind instruments. Another well-known faculty member, Eric Sundeen, will play a MalletKat, trigger pads that play like a conventional marimba. Gaston will be playing a Wavedrum and MIDI percussion. Kevin Daley will be featured on MIDI guitar and Lee Foster on electric bass.

The group will be playing original compositions and arrangements by individual members and medleys featuring Michael Jackson and '80s New Wave music. If that isn't enough to tempt the listener, Vox (Latin for voice) Mark Fulton will accompany the arrangement of the 1980s rock song, "Blinded Me with Science." The poem at the end of "Thriller," made famous by veteran actor Vincent Price, will be spoken by Vox Bill Kloppenburg.

Music lovers from all genres - classical, jazz to rock - will find something to enjoy at tonight's concert and the best part is that they'll be able to say, "I was there to see and hear the future of music right here in Bemidji."