NAU Percussion Ensemble concert features two special guests

NAU Percussion Ensemble

April 10, 2019

Northern Arizona University’s School of Music Percussion Ensemble concert presents a wide variety of contemporary music at 7:30 p.m. April 19 in Ardrey Memorial Auditorium.

Under the direction of music professor Steve Hemphill, the NAU Percussion Ensemble will be joined by two guest performers. University of Arizona doctoral candidate Michael Pratt will perform as marimba soloist on Jeffrey Dennis Smith’s “Tiger Dance,” a showcase of relentless rhythmic drive for percussion quintet. NAU alumna Alison Brightwell-Balot will return to campus to perform Brian Mason’s “Rochambeaux” with the César Chávez High School Percussion Ensemble from Laveen.

“Fanfare for a New Audience,” a brash 2009 quartet by David Skidmore, will open the concert and feature four kick drums, slabs of wood and multiple drums. “Slap Shift” by J. B. Smith will bring playful Afro-Cuban grooves to a dancing intensity, as played by six congeros in synchronized conga drum rhythms. A unique orchestration of George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris,” utilizing five marimbas, xylophone, glockenspiel and orchestral percussion, should offer a throwback to a classical 1928 flavor. A brief drumming fantasy, Joseph Thompkins’s “Blue Burn,” highlights a peculiar choreography of five bass drums (in table-style set-up), five caxixi (Brazilian basket shakers), three tamborins (a small Brazilian hand-held drum) and other assorted drums.

Three students will perform “Principles of Calabash,” written by Hemphill, introducing the rhythmic explorations of the Afro-Cuban shekere and African axatse, gourds covered with beaded netting. The concert will conclude with Emmanuel Séjourné’s “Sosso-Bala,” a theatrical octet commissioned by the Taiwanese Ju Percussion Group.

Tickets are $12.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and NAU employees and free for NAU students and youth. Tickets can be purchased at the Central Ticket Office located in the University Union or on the CTO website.

Tallie Valverde