SRU music professor believes lessons are all in the listening



Croatian folk music, performed by Tamburaški Sastav Ponoć, is at the center of a 6:30 p.m., March 26 concert at Swope Music Hall.

March 9, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Warren Davidson believes that the key to music is engagement. Reading about Bulgarian folk songs or North Indian rhythm, he said, can only take students so far.

That's why Davidson, Slippery Rock University assistant professor of music, has eliminated textbooks from his "Introduction to World Music" class and has replaced them with live concerts to "enrich the opportunities of the classroom."

To that end, Davidson is offering a series of four culturally diverse performances at SRU's Swope Music Hall that will be accessible not only to his students, but to the entire campus community.

Each concert will feature a different artist or band in order to expose attendees to musical expressions from around the world, ranging from Argentinian tango to Louisiana-based Cajun compositions.

Warren Davidson


"To me, it is far less important for people to remember the names of folk instruments or classical music schemes than for them to actually experience the music itself," said Davidson. "These concerts will allow the audience to realize how vastly different music can be and to celebrate the creativity of human beings."

Bulgarian native and accordionist Vladimir Mollov kicked off the series March 1.

Born to self-taught wedding musicians, Mollov enlivened attendees with Bulgarian folk music and French Bal-musette, a style steeped in accordion and bleak lyrics that first became popular in Paris in the 1880s.

Croatian folk music, performed by Tamburaški Sastav Ponoć, which translates to "midnight" in English, is at the center of a 6:30 p.m., March 26 concert.

The group, also known as TS Ponoć, plays a wide variety of music from Eastern Europe and the Balkan states. They mainly focus on music from Croatia, Bosnia, Hercegovina and Serbia including: traditional bećar songs, modern pop, love ballads and instrumentals.

Band performers take advantage of tambura instruments that have been played in the Balkans for hundreds of years. The instruments closely resemble mandolins, lutes and guitars. The five most commonly played are prim, brač, čelo, bugarija (or kontra) and berda. Each are fretted, steel-stringed, acoustic instruments and are played with a pick.

April will feature a pair of concerts, beginning with a 7:30 p.m., April 12 performance from Cuarteto Bravo, Pittsburgh's premier Argentine tango quartet. Cuarteto Bravo is the only professional quartet in the region to feature a bandoneon, a type of concertina used particularly in South American nations.

The tango quartet is especially meaningful to Davidson, a former violinist for the group.

"These people are my colleagues and I'm excited to bring something that I was directly a part of to my students and to the University," said Davidson. "Playing tango was a blast and something I expect to do again."

The final concert in the series will feature the Cajun culture of southwestern Louisiana through a performance by western Pennsylvania-based Grand Bon Rien at 7:30 p.m., April 26.

With driving traditional two-steps, danceable waltzes and Cajun French lyrics, the group, formed in 1994, is "dedicated to the music as it is played in the dance halls of southern Louisiana."

"We've invited these performers onto campus before and always experienced an incredibly positive response," Davidson said. "I am thrilled for my students, and the entire University, to have this opportunity."

All concerts will be staged at Swope Music Hall.

Tickets, priced at $6, can be purchased at; by phone at 724.738.4926; or at the door.

MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 |