Percussion moves front and center

Four public performances are on tap during the week


July 14, 2005|By Erica Kritt | Erica Kritt,SUN STAFF

Drummers are always in the background.

Look at any rock band, marching band or symphony orchestra: the percussive instruments are situated behind the guitars or flutes or trombones. But that won't be the case at College Park's Summer Percussion Workshop. Percussion will be front and center.

"Percussion ensembles are not to be feared," said John Tafoya, director of percussion studies at the University of Maryland and principal timpanist for the National Symphony Orchestra. UM, for the first time, will hold a summer percussion workshop that will bring in students from all over the country to study for five days with some of the country's best percussionists.

"I wanted something a little different," Tafoya said. "Students will be rubbing elbows with top-class performers."

But students aren't the only ones Tafoya and John Kilkenny, co-sponsor and coordinator of the seminar, want to reach. The workshop offers four concerts open to the public, including the grand finale featuring percussion ensemble Tempus Fugit. The group has helped popularize and cultivate composition for percussion instruments.

After the ensemble, the students will perform to "showcase the diversity of percussion," Kilkenny said. The works include a minimalist piece, a piece based on Native American drumming - students will use their voices to accentuate the drums - and a rock 'n' roll piece written by Carlos Santana. The Marine Band and workshop faculty also will perform.

Tafoya and Kilkenny want the concerts to educate and open their students and audiences to something different.

"Percussion can be the marimba and the timpani, but it can also be pots and pans and paper bags as well," Tafoya said. "A lot of people who come to concerts are pleasantly surprised that it's not all loud and bombastic."

Students will hone their techniques and prepare their performances in sessions and seminars. Kilkenny wants to show them the opportunities percussion offers. "We hope the students see how diverse the percussion world is and how many options they have."

It wasn't until recently that there were so many options. "Percussion is a younger instrument group still being explored by composers and musicians," Kilkenny said. This can be seen in the increase in repertoire. "Composers are taking it a lot more seriously, and that is good for us," Tafoya said.

With the increase in music for percussion, Kilkenny hopes that "people will see [that percussion is] not just sitting in the back of the orchestra or drum set."

All four public concerts will be held in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Stadium Drive at the University of Maryland, College Park. The opening concert is to be held at 7 p.m. Monday in Gildenhorn Recital Hall. An open rehearsal of the Summer Percussion Workshop ensemble is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday in Music Room 2540. The Marine Band percussion clinic is scheduled from 3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. July 21 in Music Room 2540. The finale, including performances by Tempus Fugit and the workshop ensemble, will be held at 6 p.m. July 22 in Dekelboum Concert Hall. Free. Call 301-405-ARTS.

For more theater, classical music and dance events, see Page 31.

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