The West Virginia University Percussion Ensemble, directed by George Willis, will visit high schools in western Pennsylvania and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia during its spring tour, May 5-9.

“The spring tour is an annual event for the WVU Percussion Ensemble,” said Willis, associate professor of music who directs the Percussion program in the College of Creative Arts. “During the past five years we have performed at more than 20 high schools and colleges. Last year, we also included the Eastman School of Music during our New York trip. The Percussion Ensemble takes pride in representing the School of Music and the College of Creative Arts throughout the state and region with activities such as this.”

The 2014 tour schedule includes:

Monday, May 5– Evening performance at Potomac State College in Keyser, West Virginia

Tuesday, May 6 –Performance at Southern Garrett High School in Oakland, Maryland, at 9 a.m. The Percussion Ensemble will perform for high school students and also area elementary school students who will attend the event. The Percussion Ensemble’s stay in Garrett County is hosted by The Sincell Publishing Company, publishers of The Republican newspaper in Oakland. The Sincell, Wagoner and McEwen families of western Maryland have strong multigenerational ties with WVU and recently established the Sincell-Wagoner Family Travel Endowment in the College of Creative Arts. Robert McEwen, a Southern Garrett High School graduate, is a member of the Percussion Ensemble, and is currently a senior music education major in the Percussion program.

Tuesday & Wednesday, May 6-7 – The Percussion Ensemble will be “Artist in Residence,” offering workshops and clinics in concert percussion and world percussion at Laurel Highlands High School in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The Percussion Ensemble will work with high school music students for two days and will also include the students in their evening performance at the high school on May 7 at 6 p.m. WVU music alumni Mark Santore (2006), director of bands at Laurel Highlands High School, and Lauren Groves (2008), assistant marching band director at Laurel Highlands High School, will be hosting this event. The concert is free and open to the public. Percussion students from Uniontown Area High School and Connellsville Area High School will also be participating in this event.

Thursday & Friday, May 8-9 – Workshops and clinics at South Hagerstown High School in Hagerstown, Maryland. The Percussion Ensemble will work also with music students at this high school for two days and incorporate the students into their evening performance. The South Hagerstown High School Rebel Band and percussion program is under the direction of Christopher Scott Benford, also an alumnus of the WVU School of Music (2000).

The students in the WVU Percussion Ensemble include: Jimmy Conkle, of Washington, Pennsylvania.; Floyd Friend, of Charleston, West Virginia; Kris Grant, of Windsor Mill, Maryland; Mitch Greco, of Livonia, New York; David Haley, of Fairmont, West Virginia; Sarah Hartman, of Hagerstown, Maryland; John Kimble, of West Union, West Virginia; Rachel Lake, of Hacker Valley, West Virginia; Laura Marsh, of Wheeling, West Virginia; Robert McEwen, of Oakland, Maryland; Ryan Mullins, of Cedar Bluff, Virginia; Sara Prengamen, of Ocean City, Maryland; Chad Sebroski, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; David Sharp, of New York, New York; Jamie Sunshine, of Williamsville, New York; Emily Tingler, of Parkersburg, West Virginia; J.C. White, of Charleston, West Virginia; Matt Zeh, of Morgantown, West Virginia; and Ronnie Ziccardi, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Willis has been the director of the WVU percussion program since 2004. He performs and presents master classes and workshops throughout the country, and is very active in The Willis Duo, performing at universities and high schools throughout the year. He has toured the United States, Europe, and Asia with the Pittsburgh Symphony and continues to be very active with other groups in the region. He holds performance degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University and Temple University. He has recorded with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Following the spring tour, Willis and the Percussion program will be hosting Percussion Camp 2014 at the Creative Arts Center during June 16-20.

For more information, contact the College of Creative Arts at 304-293-4359.


CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts

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