NIU Percussion Ensemble plans April 7 concert

An NIU student plays the snare drum.The NIU Percussion Ensemble will perform an energetic program of both new and classic works for percussion, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, featuring several student chamber ensembles and guest artist Jeremy Muller.

Known for showcasing compositions and musical genres from around the world, the NIU Percussion Ensemble will do just that with this program in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall.

The show will open with a classic percussion ensemble work, titled “Lift Off!” by former NIU composition professor Russell Peck (1974-1976), known for his many orchestral and chamber works.

The performers will then take the audience on a tour of Costa Rica, performing Fidel Gamboa’s work “Marimbando,” which blends many different Latin American rhythms and styles while featuring the wooden sounds of the marimba.

Graduate student Abby Rehard will be featured on an eclectic four-movement work by composer Mark Applebaum, titled “Straightjacket.” In this piece, five players all play drum sets in unison in one movement titled “Palindrome;” a quartet of found objects (including sawing wood, breaking spaghetti and stomping on aluminum cans) accompanies a set of hand gestures; four players strike chords on one vibraphone while one soloist dampens a series of sustained notes; and the final movement involves drawing shapes and pictures in rhythm on easels with contact microphones.

Chicago’s own Third Coast Percussion has written and commissioned many works for percussion quartet, including “Fractalia” by Owen Clayton Condon. NIU Percussion Ensemble members will show the audience how the sonic content of this piece explores fractals as the players pass beautiful “fractured melodies” between four marimbas and other explosive percussion sounds.

An NIU percussion student plays the xylophone.Of special interest on this program is a focus on the music and instruments of Brazil.

Projeto Arcomusical refers to a culmination of compositions, performances, and collaborations of music for the Afro-Brazilian berimbau between Greg Beyer and NIU percussion studio senior Alexis Lamb. Arcomusical literally means “musical bow,” and this concert will show you how uniquely musical the berimbau can be.

Beyer and Lamb have worked together to write a cycle of pieces called “MeiaMeia,” and two of these pieces will be featured on this concert: Berimbau Sextet no. 1 (Beyer) and Apenas Seja (Lamb).

Muller will perform alongside the students, performing his own composition, “Quociente,” and another by Alexandre Lunsqui, titled “Materiali.” Muller, who hails from Arizona, is an innovative performer and composer of electro-acoustic music. His playing, along with the incredible sounds and textures of the berimbau, are sure to give listeners a snapshot of the past, present and future of Afro-Brazilian music throughout the Americas.

Mike Mixtacki will lead the students in an energetic performance of “Samba Batucada” from the Carnaval celebrations of Rio de Janeiro, which will close the evening’s program.

The concert is free and open to the public, and the auditorium is accessible to all. For more information, email mmixtacki@niu.edu or gbeyer@niu.edu.

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