Grab your sticks and come on down to the John L. Haar Theatre this Sunday for MacEwan University’s Percussion Ensemble Concert.
“It’s a real hit!” says Brian Thurgood, musical director. The concert will feature over 30 of MacEwan’s percussion major students, performing a variety of compositions and arrangements chosen by Thurgood.
For over 30 years, MacEwan percussion majors have been getting together to perform in the ensemble concert. The concert is a terrific opportunity for student drummers to show their chops in a new way.
Don’t let the name fool you. Though the word “percussion” makes most people think of a standard drum kit, a percussion instrument is any musical instrument that is played by striking or shaking it, leading to a variety of sounds. This means that the Percussion Ensemble Concert offers much more than crashing cymbals and bombastic beats.
“It’s a very eclectic concert,” says Thurgood. “Everybody thinks that it’s just going to be drums, and it’s not that at all.”
In fact, people can expect to see over 100 pieces of equipment on stage, ranging from marimbas and xylophones, to timpani and hand drums.
In addition to bringing a group of musicians from the backline into the forefront, this concert is also providing them with another important experience. The ensemble features students who usually focus on playing drum kits, not the types of percussion instruments that audiences can expect to see at the concert this weekend. In order for the students to prepare for the concert, they all needed to learn new instruments.
Becoming comfortable enough to perform on a new instrument is no small task, but it’s not without its reward. Learning to play other percussion instruments offers these students the opportunity to explore new musical avenues, and they are rising to the occasion admirably.
“They’re all doing a great job,” says Thurgood.
Over its considerable lifespan, the Percussion Ensemble Concert has become an institution for MacEwan’s percussion students, and seeing the variety of percussion instruments is a treat for the audience as well.
“People love it,” says Thurgood, who has been involved with these concerts for over 30 years.
The Percussion Ensemble Concert lifts the curtain at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, in the John L. Haar Theatre in MacEwan’s Centre for the Arts and Communication, located at 10045 156 Street. Tickets are available at TIX on the Square.
Photo by Steven Stefaniuk.