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Witching Hour Preview: the otherworldly Nakatani Gong Orchestra

The gong is an instrument associated with the past, something you might find in an ancient civilization. It is not something you would expect to work in contemporary music, yet the Nakatani Gong Orchestra proves you wrong.

The orchestra in performance. Image via

The contemporary scene is flooded with familiar instruments like the piano and the guitar, so a gong – yes, the big, metal, cymbal-looking thing – seems out of place in that part of the music world. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip the performance. The Nakatani Gong Orchestra will indulge your ears with metallic sound waves.

The orchestra in rehearsal. Image via Arizona Daily Sun.

The multiple gongs under the expert leadership of the percussionist and composer Tatsuya Nakatani creates a unique, eerie and ethereal feel. Nakatani is so dedicated to his craft, he spent ten years rehearsing with the group before their first performance in 2011. While Nakatani includes elements of traditional Japanese music, such as dramatic pacing and space, he also strives to create a more contemporary sound that leaves the listener with something that is from both the past and the present.

Tatsuya Nakatani at work. Image via Taj Howe for the Whitman Wire.

Not everyone wants to spend their evening listening to gong music (even though it sounds pretty cool). If the music alone doesn’t intrigue you, the performance itself should. The second installment of this year’s Witching Hour festival, the Nakatani Gong Orchestra is something you don’t want to miss. After ten years of preparation, the masterful Nakatani and his skilled musicians are ready to deliver.

The Nakatani Gong Orchestra is something out of this world. You can listen to the group on Spotify, or join them live at the Englert Theatre at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 2.