WU Percussion Ensemble to perform Tuesday night

Regina Budden

A final frontier will be explored Tuesday when Washburn University’s musical pioneers forge their way on stage in the Washburn University Percussion Ensemble Spring Concert. The ensemble will perform their repertoire free for audiences at 7:30 p.m. at White Concert Hall.

The concert will open with “Surge,” by Rob Smith. The piece is an exciting way to start the concert, says ensemble director Tom Morgan.

“It’s a very rambunctious piece,” he said.

The “Percussion Sonata No. 2,” also known as “Woodstock,” was written by Peter Schickele. Schickele is known for his musical comedies of “PDQ Bach,” but “Woodstock” is a more serious composition. It will be performed by the Washburn University Percussion Collective, which is a smaller percussion group within the general ensemble.

The ensemble will also perform the first movement of “Toccata,” by Carlos Chavez. Written in 1954, it was one of the earliest ensemble pieces written specifically for percussion. Back then, Morgan said, percussion was a very young genre.

The final piece of the night will be “Soul Bossa Nova,” a piece from Austen Powers. Written by Quincy Jones and arranged by Rick Mattingly, it seems to be a personal favorite of Morgan’s.

“I got an arrangement of it and had to do it,” he said.

Morgan said the percussion ensemble seems to be one of the last unexplored areas of band. The orchestra and band have been pretty well exploited by composers, so now they have branched out and have begun writing more music that targets percussion.

The diverse compositions that will be performed on April 14 are an indication of percussion ensemble’s versatility. It is this aspect of the genre that Morgan thinks many people don’t understand.

“A lot of people, when they think of a percussion ensemble, they just think of a lot of drums,” said Morgan, adding that he hopes that the variety of music at the concert will persuade listeners otherwise.

For Morgan, the other purpose of his program choices is to balance audience appeal and educational value. He said that although the primary reason for concerts is to help students advance playing and technique, he tries to keep the audience in mind.

“I try to take into consideration the fact that someone has to sit out there and listen to it,” said Morgan. “It’s an exciting medium, and it’s one of the last frontiers.”