The West Virginia University Percussion Ensemble will present a variety of contemporary works and special performances during its annual fall concert Thursday, Oct. 9, at the WVU Creative Arts Center .

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre .

For nearly 30 years, the Percussion Ensemble concert has been one of the highlights of the year at WVU , said George Willis , director. The 2008 event will continue this tradition, as well as move into the cutting edge of 21st-century performance genre, Willis said.

The program will include:

  • Fanfare for the Return of Shadow,Brett Dietzs powerful and rhythmic percussion work for eight players. The instruments used for this work are assorted drums and, when played in unison, provide for a short, exciting opening for the concert.
  • Concertareby Raymond Helble. This classical work features 12 percussionists, including six on marimbas, playing very difficult melodic and harmonic passages.
  • Plasma Cannon Predicament,a piece written specifically for this years concert by percussion graduate assistant David Newcomb, who has been composing music for percussion for many years. This work is a combination of fast rock and melodic keyboard percussion, with an electronic drum set used to provide atechnogroove. The work features Newcomb on solo marimba.

Newcomb has an undergraduate degree in music performance from WVU and was a member of the WVU Marching Band drum line. In addition,he was the recipient of the prestigious 2006-07 Presser Award as the most outstanding music student in the College of Creative Arts and has performed with all of the ensembles at WVU and the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.

  • October Mountainby Alan Hovhaness. This yearsold schoolwork on the program, the piece will be conducted by percussion graduate assistant Ryan Frost.
  • Raptures of Undreamby Bruce Hamilton. This workwritten for six percussionists playing the same set of instrumentsis a display of complex rhythmic virtuosity that Willis said will truly test the abilities of the WVU percussion program.
  • Night of Moon Dancesby Eckhard Kopetzki. Joel Hilbert, a senior music student and an instructor of the WVU drum line, is the soloist on this marimba concertodescribed by Willis as the most thrilling and complex work on the program. The WVU Division of Theatre and Dance is collaborating on this piece, with theater student Kelly McGill designing and producing a theatrical light show for the performance.

The WVU Gamelan Ensemble will again perform as part of this years concert. The Gamelan Ensemble is led by Michael Vercelli , the new director of WVU s World Music Center.

Ethnic or world music is an integral part of the rich tradition of percussion performance at WVU , and the programs World Music concerts have often featured the gamelan, a set of many different musical instruments from Indonesia.

Vercelli has a doctorate of musical arts in percussion performance with a minor in ethnomusicology from the University of Arizona. While well-versed in the classical percussion repertoire, Vercellis specialty lies in non-Western instruments.

He has studied the traditional music of other countries and done fieldwork in Bali, Cuba, Brazil and primarily in Ghana. He has received many awards for both his performance and study of indigenous music and is the recipient of numerous grants, including the prestigious Northern Trust/Piper Enrichment Scholarship.

Tickets for the Percussion Ensemble concert are available at the Mountainlair and Creative Arts Center box offices or by calling 304-293-SHOW.