UVU Percussion brings diversity to music

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UVU’s percussion ensemble gave a riveting performance, Nov. 28 in the Grande Ballroom. Bodies trembled, beats thundered and wicked souls were soothed during the performance. The ensemble was based in the center of the ballroom as a conglomerate of instruments in a rough circle, which was encompassed by four groups of roughly 44 chairs each.

This was the last show of the tour after using a Grant for Engaged Learning of $10,000 to travel to Gunnison, Castle Dale and Monroe Utah. The UVU Percussion performed mainly in town halls and in high schools.

“It was just cool to play in Gunnison. It was a small town, and a lot of kids got to come see us,” music education major Lorena Navarro said.

Many of the Gunnison residents, roughly 1,300 out of the 3,500, showed for the performance according to Doug Smith, a teacher and director of the program. Even the mayor, Richard Hagan, greeted the UVU percussion since he is part owner of the Casino Star Theatre that they performed in. The theater is one of the oldest in Utah being built in 1912.

The show started with songs made specifically for percussion groups. ZZZZing was made to embody the thrill of fishing and Ritmica Nos. 5 & 6 was an Afro-Cuban piece, which required all 11 players. The third and most terrifying piece, Ogoun Badagris, is based on Haitian style drumming and rituals.

“It gives me a huge adrenalin rush,” music education major Christopher Dumas said.

The performance certainly got the crowd’s blood pumping as this song of sacrifice and appeasing a voodoo god blasted with raw power. The instruments used were fairly normal, except for the lower jaw of what appeared to be a cow. Many of the songs were based on Afro-Cuban music and Haitian heritage.

“[The performance was] tremendous [and] exciting. [I] had so much fun,” said Smith, an attendant at the event.

Some classical music made its way into the program as well. Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt, Suite No. 1 OP. 46 is one of his eight pieces that were played. The main focus of the music selected was to find something that everyone could enjoy.

“It wasn’t just diverse in the kind of music but [also] the cultures. [It had] Afro-Cuban and then classical music,” commercial music major Kelsey Schwendiman said.

For the final song, UVU Percussion covered Radiohead’s  Sit Down Stand Up, bringing the musical journey to the millennial era.

After the performance was finished, the band stood up from their seats and grabbed their portable percussion instruments and began to walk out of the ballroom while playing a final impromptu piece.