Celebrating this year’s global spotlight country, Spain, UVU Percussion Ensemble performed Spanish Roots at Centre Stage Apr. 11. The performance was intended to highlight the cultural impact of Spanish music and showcase it to the student body through percussion.

Doug Smith, professor and percussion coordinator, hosted the evening by introducing each set and giving background about each music piece for the audience to learn more about its cultural origins.

As the performance progressed, the audience members were visibly moved by the music and the stories they appeared to tell. While some students in attendance admitted to not knowing a lot about music in general, the effect of Spanish Roots was still felt as the music transcended barriers such as language and lack of musical knowledge.

“I’ve always been interested in music. I did a lot of music throughout high school, mostly vocal performance, not so much percussion, but I really enjoyed the concert,” said biotech major Mariana Ransom.

Before the night ended, however, Smith gave a touching speech as a tribute to his hardworking students. He spoke of how friendships can influence and build the character of a person, and how it is important to surround yourself with people who challenge and better you.

“We all need people in our lives who raise our standards and remind us of our essential purpose and challenge us to become the best version of ourselves. And I think this, more than anything else, is what makes this group, Percussion UVU, so successful. And it’s just an honor to work with them, everyday,” Smith said.

Smith also took a moment to highlight the successes the Ensemble achieved at the recent Utah Day of Percussion competition that occurred March 17.

He mentioned the students who placed in the solo competitions: Tyler Ruiz, who placed third in Drumset, Ben Holt and Tracy Furr who took first and second place in the Timpani competition; and finally, the three students who swept the Mock Auditions category taking first, second and third place went to Lorena Navarro, Ben Holt, and Tracy Furr.

However, Smith wasn’t the only one handing out praises. Freshman and two-time competition winner Ben Holt expressed his love for the percussion ensemble and described how close he felt to each of the friends he made in the group. However, he also went into detail on the impact Smith had on his decision to come to UVU.

“He is the reason I came to UVU. I was really dead-set on going elsewhere, but I had a lesson with Dr. Smith and he changed my whole perspective on playing percussion. I took a class from him my first semester, and he ‘learned me so many new things,’” Holt said. “It’s remarkable how much of a difference he makes to all the kids — both personally and musically.”