Percussion Ensemble to present traditional, unusual works in March 30 concert

The Western Carolina University Percussion Ensemble will present a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30, in the Coulter Building recital hall.

The ensemble performs music specifically composed or arranged for percussion instruments, including drums, cymbals, timpani, xylophones, marimbas and bells. This year’s group includes 20 WCU music majors who study with Mario Gaetano, professor in WCU’s School of Music.

Mario Gaetano

Among the more unusual works to be performed are “Music for Pieces of Wood,” by minimalist composer Steve Reich, for five clave players; “Fanfare for Tambourines,” by John Alfieri, for six tambourine players; and “Canticle No. 1,” by Lou Harrison, which uses auto brake drums, ceramic flower pots, wine bottles, numerous blocks of wood, various rattles, gongs, drums and even part of a tin roof.

More traditional compositions to be performed include an arrangement of three piano pieces by Chick Corea, to be performed on marimbas and vibraphones, and a work by David Gillingham titled “Normandy Beach 1944.” Composed for four marimba players, that work is described as a moving tribute to the fallen soldiers of World War II.

The final work on the program is Thomas Gauger’s “Portico.” The piece is a massive tour de force for 11 percussionists playing marimbas, vibes, chimes, bells, timpani, tom-toms, snare drums, cymbals and hand-held percussion.

The musicians will perform under the direction of Gaetano, who is available for more information at 828-227-3263.