The Beat Goes On: UK Hosts Day of Percussion Featuring Tom Hurst

Watch Tom Hurst perform at 2014 Tracy Lawrence concert above.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 6, 2018) — Percussion lovers, listen up. University of Kentucky Percussion Studies will celebrate all things percussion at the 2018 Day of Percussion on March 10, at Singletary Center for the Arts. The Kentucky chapter of the Percussive Arts Society sponsors this special day of workshops, concerts and clinics that will feature five acclaimed performers and educators, including popular Nashville percussionist Tom Hurst. Leading up to the festivities, UK Percussion Studio will get Central Kentucky audiences in the spirit with a recital by the UK Percussion Group and a masterclass with alumnus Eric Willie on March 8.

Nashville Percussionist Headlines Day of Percussion

Percussionist, educator, clinician and promoter Tom Hurst has supported artists across the spectrum of popular music for 25 years whether behind the drum kit or playing ethnic percussion. The Backstreet Boys, Gary Allan, Wang Chung, Chuck Wicks, Tiffany, Joe Nichols, Sister Hazel, Tracy Lawrence, Peter Noon of Herman's Hermits and James Otto are but a sampling of the diverse range of national and international artists who have utilized Hurst’s performance services for touring and/or recording.

But, Hurst will not be the only talent featured at Kentucky’s Day of Percussion. Several other artists will also appear at this daylong event including Joshua D. Smith, Richard Henson, Michelle Lewis and Eric Willie.

UK alumnus Joshua D. Smith will cover the fundamentals of playing auxiliary instruments. A freelance percussionist based in Lexington, he earned his doctoral degree from University of North Texas, a master’s degree from James Madison University, and a bachelor’s degree in music education from UK.

Richard Henson will lead several sessions on frame drumming, as well as facilitate a drum circle open to participants of all ages and experience levels. Henson serves as the coordinator of Percussion Studies at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. He also serves as a part-time instructor of percussion at Lee University, in Cleveland, Tennessee, where he teaches world percussion, applied lessons and percussion techniques, and assists with the percussion ensemble.

Michelle Lewis is passionate about music education, empowering students to create, and strengthening community through community drum circles. Her session is titled “Hands-On Drumming for Kids!” In the fall of 2018, Lewis will begin her appointment on the music education faculty at Indiana University Southeast. She is currently the director of the Louisville Leopard Percussionists middle school percussion ensembles that focus on creating music, music literacy and performance practices of traditional, cultural, popular and esoteric percussion music. 

UK alumnus Eric Willie will conduct a performance of the KMEA (Kentucky Music Educators Association) High School All-State Percussion Ensemble, featuring the best young percussionists from around the Commonwealth. In addition, he will address marimba performance techniques in another session. Described as a "true musical talent and professional" by composer Ivan Trevino, Willie has a varied career as a solo performer, chamber musician, orchestral player, arranger and teacher.

The Day of Percussion is designed for all ages of percussion students, teachers and enthusiasts. The cost of admission is $15 for non-Percussive Arts Society members, $10 for PAS members, and $5 for parents and children 12 and under.

Registration for Day of Percussion begins in the lobby of the Singletary Center at 9 a.m. with the first session beginning at 10 a.m. The day concludes with a drawing of door prizes at 5 p.m. For further information, call Professor James Campbell, director of Percussion Studies at UK, at 859-257-8187 or visit

Get in the Percussive Mood Early

UK Percussion Studies will offer Bluegrass audiences a taste of percussion excitement prior to this weekend’s festivities with a masterclass with Eric Willie and a concert by UK’s own percussion studio on March 8. Both events will be free and open to the public.

Willie will present his masterclass for UK Percussion Studies starting 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 8, in Room 22 of the Fine Arts Building.

Willie has performed in Carnegie Hall, at several PAS International Conventions, and on regional live broadcasts, such as the Nashville NPR station’s "Live In Studio C." As an orchestral musician, he is a section member of the Winston-Salem Symphony and has additionally performed as a percussionist with the Nashville Symphony, Nashville Ballet Orchestra, Greensboro Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, Lexington Philharmonic, Murfreesboro Symphony, Bryan Symphony and the Beloit/Janesville Symphony.

Active within PAS, Willie currently serves as chair of the International Percussion Ensemble Committee and vice president for the North Carolina chapter of the society. In addition to his talents as a classical percussionist, he is known for his marching percussion arranging and teaching experience. Willie has served as a percussion consultant with the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps (2012-2013) and instructor and/or arranger for the Spirit, Southwind, Carolina Crown and the Madison Scouts drum and bugle corps.

As a clinician, Willie has appeared at Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, several days of percussion, and many state music educators' conventions throughout the Midwest and Southeast United States. His music has been published by Innovative Percussion and TapSpace publications. Currently, he is the director of Percussion Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he directs a comprehensive percussion program. Willie directs the classical percussion ensemble and steel band, and serves as a member of the graduate faculty.

Later that same day, the University of Kentucky Percussion Studio will present a recital beginning 7:30 p.m., in the Recital Hall of the Singletary Center. The concert will feature eclectic works for solo percussion, keyboard mallet instruments and several small chamber works.

The Percussion Studies program at UK is designed with a comprehensive approach to the study and performance of literature in all styles and idioms of music. The goal of the percussion curriculum is to develop musicianship, technical proficiency, cultural awareness, and technological literacy in both performance and pedagogy. The Percussion Studies program is directed by Professor James Campbell and assisted by graduate students Jeremy Maytum and Jamie Vilseck. The drum set instructor is Paul Deatherage.

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

photo of Tom Hurst playing drums
photo of Joshua D. Smith with tambourine
photo of Richard Henson
photo of Michelle Lewis
photo of Eric Willie playing drums
photo of 2017-18 UK Percussion Studio in front of Singletary Center

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: #uk4ky #seeblue