Player’s Choice: Percussion Ensembles concert review

Southern Utah University’s Percussion Ensembles had their fall concert, “Player’s Choice,” in the Thorley Music Recital Hall on Monday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

The program ranged widely due to the fact the percussionists were free to choose the pieces they performed. All but one song, “Blur,” was conducted by Director of Percussion, Dr. Lynn Vartan. 

The Percussion Ensembles perform historically significant pieces for percussion, contemporary percussion literature, novelty percussion and traditional non-western percussion music.

“Our students have a penchant for choosing difficult pieces because they often sound the most enticing so it makes everyone more motivated and excited to learn them,” said music major and theatre minor Eliza Barton. “Even though it has been a lot of hard work, the payoff is going to be enormous.”

There was no introduction to start the program. The percussionists walked onto the stage and began playing “Blue Burn,” a piece by Joe Tompkins that featured several sets of bass drums. 

Two pieces, “Forbidden Friendship” and “Palpitations,” primarily featured marimbas. “Forbidden Friendship” was a warm piece performed by two students and Vartan, while “Palpitations” was a fast and furious piece that required advanced skill.

Vartan picked only one piece in the program, “Hyperbole.” It is a piece full of grooves and something Vartan wanted to perform before Percussion Studios goes on tour to play for high schools in Las Vegas. 

After the concert, Vartan offered to answer questions for potential percussionists interested in SUU’s music programs.

SUU offers four different degrees for percussionists: a Bachelor’s of Art with a percussion emphasis, a Bachelor’s of Music with a percussion emphasis, a Bachelor’s of Music Education with an instrumental emphasis or a music minor with a percussion emphasis.

“Some of us love to play difficult rhythms while others love the colors from the chords and melodies so we always have a buffet of the best moments of playing percussion,” said mechanical engineering major Adam Smith. “Percussion is more than just the beat on the drums — it’s a bonding experience.”

SUU Percussion Ensembles welcome students with all levels of experience, regardless of major. Under the direction of Vartan, there are various opportunities to study orchestral percussion, drum set, ethnic percussion and chamber music while developing artistic abilities.

Students can find additional information about Percussion Ensembles and other musical concerts coming up on the music department website

Story By: Addie Horsley
Photo Courtesy of SUU Percussion Ensembles