Arts & Culture

UK Percussion Concert Features Alumni Composers, World Beats

photo of UK Percussion Ensemble - Gahu
UK Percussion Ensemble plays "Gahu,” the festive, social dance music of the Ewe people of Ghana and Togo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 25, 2017) The University of Kentucky Percussion Ensemble (UKPE) will perform a free public concert 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Singletary Center for the Arts Recital Hall. The concert will feature six extremely musical and physically demanding works for the performers that focus on the themes of atmosphere, integration, texture, minimalism and ethnic festivals. 

Two works by UK alumni are featured. “Parallel,” by Brian Nozny (DMA 2010), was born from self-imposed limitations: metal instruments only, a limited force of those instruments, small fragments of thematic material and the avoidance of using pitch-based instruments melodically. The goal of these limitations was to create a piece that emphasized atmosphere over all other things.

“Clapping Music Variations,” by Glenn Kotche (BM 1994), is a multiple percussion piece for 11 or more players, inspired by minimalist composer Steve Reich's 1972 duet for hand-clapping, "Clapping Music." It also hints at a Balinese gamelan orchestra by providing lush, interlocking melodic lines and metallic textures.

Other works in the concert program include “The Surface of the Sky” written by Blake Tyson to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School. The song is dedicated to the nine students who courageously led the way. Today, images of the Little Rock Nine from 1957 have lost none of their power. Six decades later we can not only see the past in those photos, we see reflections of our own time. The work was commissioned through a consortium that includes UK.

“Ta and Clap,” by Nico Muhly, is based on a method of teaching rhythms wherein all beats are accounted for, resulting in a fully-rendered moto perpetuo that only implies empty spaces naturally found in a rhythmic pattern.

The program begins and ends with percussion music from two different continents. “Gahu” is the festive, social dance music of the Ewe people of Ghana and Togo. In contrast, the ensemble performs batucada, an Afro-Brazilian percussive style, characterized by its repetitive style and fast pace.

The UK Percussion Ensemble, conducted by James Campbell, is internationally recognized for its excellence and innovative programming and has won the prestigious Percussive Arts Society Collegiate Percussion Ensemble Contest five times. For more information on the UK Percussion Ensemble concert, contact James Campbell, director of Percussion Studies at UK School of Music, at 859-257-8187.

UKPE is one of several ensembles housed at the UK School of Music in the UK College of Fine Arts. The school has garnered national recognition for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, composition, music therapy, theory and music history.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue