Percussionists Take Melody

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    By Rebecca Vikari

    Xylophone, drum, marimba and piano players can do more than just play rhythm. They can pound out the melody in a unique way that brings the music to life.

    The Percussion Ensemble and Panoramic Steel, both directed by Ron Brough, will be performing a special recital Friday, (Dec. 1, 2006) at 7:30 p.m. in the Madsen Recital Hall. Tickets are $9 or $6 with student ID.

    “We”re having lots of fun,” Brough said. “We take standard literature as well as old literature and give it a new twist.”

    Both the Panoramic Steel Band and the Percussion Ensemble are audition groups and composed of music and non-music majors.

    “I have them prepare a solo on the percussion instrument of their choice, and they also do some sight-reading,” Brough said. “They are stretched, they learn a lot. I push them, and audiences love what we do. It”s a win-win for everybody.”

    The percussion ensemble, which is made up of the basic concert percussion instruments, will start the recital on Friday by doing the soundtrack to the silent film, “Invisible Men.” They will not only play the music from the film, but will also do all of the sound effects. They will use other instruments in order to make sounds like whistles or breaking glass.

    “People get to see what they”re hearing,” Brough said. “They get to see percussionists make sounds that help the movie make more sense.”

    After that, the ensemble will play an African piece written by a Canadian composer, and then a version of Beethoven”s ninth symphony. The percussion will imitate French horns, cellos and violins.

    Mike Peck, a junior from Sandy studying music is a member of the percussion ensemble and says the best part of being in the ensemble is being able to play around and make music with the other percussionists.

    “It”s a good break from other classes at school,” he said.

    The Panoramic Steel Band is a group that Brough started 20 years ago when he came to BYU. He had been involved in steel bands during his graduate work and while working at another university and decided to start something similar here. The band is made up of standard Trinidadian drums made by Ellie Mannette, whose work is showcased in the Smithsonian. The drums are made from 55 gallon barrels, and the group plays a variety of island music as well as other musical styles.

    “We play Caribbean type music on Caribbean type instruments,” Brough said. “Come to one of our concerts and you will warm up inside. We try to have a lot of fun in our concerts.”

    Nate Watson, a senior from Provo studying percussion performance, is a member of the steel band. He said that it”s fun because every semester things change and students get the opportunity to learn new instruments. He also said the students put in a lot of practice throughout the week so that their rehearsals are efficient.

    “It”s fun music and fun to play,” Watson said. “And it”s a really good experience.”

    This recital celebrates the Steel Band”s 20th anniversary, and to finish up the show, the group will play a song titled “Birthday Party” with the audience joining in at the end to sing “Happy Birthday.” Then birthday cake will be served.

    “It will be a musical buffet,” Brough said. “[It will be] aurally and visually entertaining.”

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