Hands, sticks and mallets flying, musicians in the UVU Percussion Ensemble rehearsed for their upcoming show. The sounds ranged from body-vibrating beats to gentler rhythms, weaving dynamic pieces of art.
Monday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ragan Theater, the UVU Percussion Ensemble, directed by Dr. Doug Smith, will perform a variety of musical pieces along with performances by UVU Steel, the Green Man Group, the Contemporary Dance Ensemble and the Kozan Taiko drummers.
“The Percussion Ensemble concert will be like nothing else [students have] ever seen,” said Branson Garner, Ensemble member who arranged one of the performance pieces.
Garner, a senior music major, frequently composes and arranges pieces. For Monday’s performance, he arranged a percussion version of the Prince piece from the 1989 “Batman” movie with Jack Nicholson as The Joker. The piece, entitled “Batdance,” was originally written for a rock band-type setting. Branson has transformed the piece for the percussion ensemble and said it has a “driving rhythm” and plenty of drama.
Branson isn’t the only student with a hand in the show’s arrangements. Another ensemble member, Kayla North, created a Charlie’s Angels piece for electronic percussion to be played by female members of the ensemble. Nate Anderson also tried his hand at creation and his improvisational piece will be a distinguishing part of Monday’s show.
Other pieces to be played include a percussion arrangement of Vivaldi’s A minor Violin Concerto, several drum pieces and a five-movement musical journey through “Brazilian Myths,” for which the Ensemble won’t take the stage alone. The Contemporary Dance Ensemble, garbed in a variety of exotic costumes, will accompany the Ensemble. Each movement will lead the audience through a different myth, from that of a devious dwarf with backward feet to temptress mermaids and even a preacher’s headless wife.
In between pieces, UVU’s Green Man Group will keep the audience entertained. The group, playing a drumline style of music, is used to performing at sporting events, and Smith says they know how to get the audience “hyped up.”
Kozan Taiko, a local band whose latter name signifies “drum” in Japanese, will open the show. UVU Steel, another percussion group, will also play toward the concert’s start.
“It will be a whole evening of crazy, awesome music,” Smith said, whose enthusiasm for the music can be seen as he literally jumps in the air during parts of the Ensemble’s rehearsal.
But the Ensemble’s music won’t just be a lot of exciting noise. Smith explains that the concert will showcase “real pieces” from a variety of musical periods. He considers the ensemble to be a true chamber group of musicians, “not just a bunch of people beating on drums.”
Smith aims to prepare his students for the real world and to train them as competent musicians. He believes “you learn music by playing music” and works to give each of his students musical opportunities for success along with exposure to a wide array of music.
In regards to Monday’s show, Ensemble members James Westwood and Shannon Oveson agreed that the show will be dynamic and intriguing. Oveson said that percussion is different than any other type of music. One unique thing about it, she said, is that percussionists have to learn to play essentially every percussion instrument. In other words, they’re a multifaceted bunch of musicians.
For tickets to the show, head to Campus Connection or the Noorda box office and prepare for an evening of rhythm, variety and beat.
By Sierra Wilson – Staff Writer