The West Virginia University Percussion Ensemble, a staple of the fall semester entertainment program, will perform a culturally diverse selection of music at this years concert, to be held Oct. 20 and 21.
The concert will again be held in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre of the Creative Arts Center under the direction of George Willis, who is director of percussion studies at WVU . Performances each night begin at 7:30 p.m.
This is Willissecond year directing the performance, and he again promises an exciting and greatly varied musical program.
Metal cans, auto horns, cooking pans, glasses filled with water and the cuica (a squeaky drum) will be used to portray characters in a programmatic piece,Mitos Brasileirosby Ney Rosauro. The piece tells a story about five Brazilian mythological characters.
Keeping with a Latin theme, the ensemble will also play a very technically challenging arrangement calledFugataby Astor Piazolla. The arrangement is a fiery tango piece that is quite enjoyable for the listener and Willis passes the baton to Kevin Zaczkiewicz, a masters student in percussion performance. Zaczkiewicz is currently serving as percussion instructor for the 2005 Mountaineer Marching Band drum line.
Switching continents, the ensemble will perform a piece in the West African Mande percussion tradition,Dununbe-Takosaba-Bolokondon.The musical activity of the piece is high with performers using three different-sized, double-headed drums with bells attached. This piece was arranged by Gordon Nunn, the director of the African Drumming and Dance Ensemble, who will also direct the selection. Nunn currently coordinates WVU s World Music Center, teaches African music and directs the Taiko Ensemble.
The ensemble will perform a powerful favorite from last years performance,Bonham,an ode to rock drumming and drummers by Christopher Rouse. The underlying core of the piece resembles Led ZeppelinsWhen the Levee Breaks,but hints of other Led Zeppelin hits can be noticed as well. Adam Osmianski, a senior in the ensemble, is highlighted on the drum set while Willis splits time playing the keyboard and directing the ensemble.
Other works includeThe Wave,by Keiko Abe and Kaore Wada, featuring WVU doctoral student Ming-Hui Kuo on marimba. Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, she spent 1992-2002 as an intern with the internationally known Ju Percussion Group and has performed all over the world.
The program also featuresHohnerby David Maslanka and directed by Zaczkiewicz; andPorticoby Tom Gauger, a piece that was performed at its world premiere by the WVU Percussion Ensemble at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in 1983.
Members of the 2005 WVU Percussion Ensemble include: Daniel Bain, Benjamin Lauffer, Martin Johnston, Dominic Marini, Jake Cummings, Lauren Groves, Joel Hilbert, Josh Mengel, Andrew Neldon, Ian MacMichael, David Newcomb, Brandon Lambert,
Meredith Lentz, Dave Longfellow, Sarah Leslie, Matthew Ratai, Bryan Welker, Tim Martin, John Meriwether, Keith Moone, Brandon Neal, Adam Osmianski, E.J. Oesterle, Eric Rucker, Jon Cavenish, and Brad Owens.
Willis is a native of Pittsburgh and received a bachelors degree in percussion performance from Carnegie-Mellon University and a masters degree from Temple University. He also holds an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. His varied background covers symphonic and chamber music, percussion ensemble and solo music, music education at all levels, plus brass band and drum corps.
His musical affiliations in Pittsburgh have ranged from being principal percussionist with the Butler Symphony to a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since 1984. He is also principal percussionist with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the River City Brass Band, the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Ballet Orchestra and the Civic Light Opera. He has performed throughout Japan, Taiwan, Russia, South and Central America and virtually all of Europe.
Tickets for the Percussion Ensemble concert are $12 for the general public, $10 for WVU staff/faculty and senior citizens, and $8 for WVU students. Tickets are available at the Mountainlair Box Office or by calling 304-293-SHOW.