The UCA Percussion Ensemble gave an amazing performance Tuesday night at the Snow Fine Arts Center Recital Hall.
They performed five pieces on various percussion instruments including the snare drum, timpani, chimes and marimba. The group is made of music students who audition for the ensemble and is directed by assistant professor of music Blake Tyson.
The first piece, “Jubilee” by David Long, was a fast moving and boisterous piece involving all the students in the ensemble. It featured haunting melodies on the marimba and vibraphone. The piece held complex rhythms and was full of life and spirit.
The second piece featured three movements from ” Five Cirandas Brasilanas” by Ney Rosauro. The three movements, “Samba Lele,” “Todo Mundo Passa” and “Pai Francisco” were played by Kyle Littlejohn on marimba and Sarah Yarnell on vibraphone. The two expertly held two mallets in each hand. The music was light and innocent. The music was based on Brazilian children songs.
“Cloud Forest” was written by Tyson after he visited Ecuador. He was asked to write the piece for a percussion quartet 10 years ago. Former UCA student Ashlee Burnam was featured on marimba. The melodies were moving and complex.
The fourth piece, “Sculpture in Wood” by Rudiger Pawassasr, was a jazz-inspired marimba quartet. They moved together effortlessly. The slow middle section with chromatic climbs was intriguing and they crescendoed into the end with their arms moving so fast that they were a blur.
The last piece brought all the students in the ensemble back together. “Past Mountain Cliffs to the Paradises of the Immortal,” which was performed, was the third movement from “Palace of Nine Perfections” by Eric Ewazen. The piece was inspired by an Asian emperor’s procession into a palace. It was whimsical but interesting with notes of Asian-influenced melodies. The slow beginning moved into a loud but controlled ending with all members moving furiously.
This performance was a prelude to the annual Percussion Festival that will be held from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday in Snow Fine Arts Center. The festival started in 2002 and features mostly UCA students and alumni leading workshops.
The festival is free and open to everyone. More than 100 people attended last year.
Here is a video of the Percussion Ensemble performing “Cloud Forest.”