Snares, sirens and bells add unconventional beats to percussion ensemble

Snares, sirens and bells add unconventional beats to percussion ensemble
Photo courtesy of Emory Hensley

By Caroline Smith | Staff Reporter

The UA Percussion Ensemble will be sharing a little bit of their culture with audiences this Friday. The musical group will use over 30 different instruments to bring an unconventional sound to the Moody Music Concert Hall in their upcoming concert.

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Admission is free to all, and there is no expected attire. Undergraduate and graduate students alike will come together to present musical arrangements of all different kinds.

Tim Feeney, assistant professor of percussion and director of the percussion program, hopes the concert will be a memorable and enlightening experience for all who attend.

“Come here and see a thing that you have not before,” Feeney said. “I’ve always found myself the most interested and alive by things that surprise me, and that I didn’t expect, and that I have not seen. Those experiences are broadening and valuable.”

With the idea of creating a surprising and attention-grabbing show, Feeney chose the music for the show very intentionally.

“In terms of variety, I try to cast as wide a net as I can,” Feeney said. “I try to get the folks playing in the group to experience things they haven’t seen or heard before. I think definitely there is a chance for folks coming and listening to see and hear things that they’ve never seen before.”

More commonly recognized percussion instruments like snare drums, xylophones, marimbas and bells will be featured in the show alongside more unconventional instruments like air raid sirens, a variation of an amplified tabletop and a ‘lion’s roar,’ a drum through which a string is pulled to create a roaring sound.

Aaron Levy, a third-year musical arts doctoral student, emphasized the wide range of instruments and history that will be represented in the concert.

“Some of the music we’re playing is extremely new—written in the past few years,” he said. “But, the piece that I’m conducting is the first piece that was written for this style of ensemble way back in the 1930s. That’s the oldest piece we’re playing. So, you get a little bit of historical context when you see what can be done now versus what was done about 70 years ago.”

Students studying percussion at the University are required to be part of the Percussion Ensemble because of the impact it has on furthering their education. Kayla Liptak, a senior majoring in percussion performance, feels that being part of the ensemble has benefitted her learning experience.

“I think that being a part of the Percussion Ensemble adds an element of individuality to my education because it is so much more intimate,” Liptak said. “My playing is a lot more exposed in a smaller setting like this.”

Liptak encouraged students to attend to experience the environment that such a performance creates.

“Students should attend the concert because live music is such an incredible experience,” she said. “You get to be part of the atmosphere and see everything happen in real time. Nothing beats that.”

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