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Orchid Ensemble brings the world's music together

For Journal Register Newspapers

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Besides several performances in the metro area, Jonathan Bernard, percussionist in Vancouver's Orchid Ensemble, has a particularly personal connection to Detroit.

"That's where my grandparents met," says Bernard, whose grandmother was a touring violinist during the 20s and 30s in band called the Slaves of Melody. "They were playing in (Detroit) and my grandfather was there working for a construction company, and they fell in love when she was passing through.

"So there are some old ties to Detroit. They've both passed away, but we have photos from that band and those days."

Orchid Ensemble -- a trio that blends classical and contemporary Chinese musical traditions with other musical forms -- is continuing its own connection with "LIfe Death Tears Dream," the group's third album and first in eight years, following a number of interim projects, including annual interdisciplinary endeavors with dance and visual arts, that Bernard says are reflected on the latest set's 10 tracks.

"The album in reality is a collection of some of our best pieces that were created since (2004's) 'Road to Kashgar,' " Bernard explains. "We had this general them in mind around text and poetry, and that helped narrow down the choices. In the end it became a very diverse, dreamlike kind of album with different approaches and different sources and influences.

"There are a lot of themes being explored, so this is a sampling of what we've been up to during those years between (albums)."

Orchid Ensemble performs at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, during Friday Night Live! at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave. The shows are free with regular museum admission. Call 313-833-7900 or visit www.dia.org.

Web Site: www.dia.org

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