Northern Illinois University

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Greg Beyer
Greg Beyer

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News Release

Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-9472

January 22, 2009

NIU to host annual Illinois Day of Percussion

DeKalb, Ill. — Percussionists from around the world will heat up Northern Illinois University’s Music Building this weekend during Day of Percussion 2009, organized by the Illinois chapter of the Percussive Arts Society.

The day includes concerts, clinics and open houses that offer a peek into NIU’s world music curriculum.

All are welcome; admission is $5 for PAS members and $10 for the general public. Members of the NIU Percussion Club and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia will sell concessions throughout the day.

“We’re going to celebrate our art form, tip our hat to the history of our genre and make important strives for the future of our endeavors,” said Greg Beyer, professor of percussion in the NIU School of Music and host for the day.

“I’m hoping this is not just entertainment but has educational value,” Beyer added. “For students, especially, to see some of these internationally known artists giving clinics, master classes and concerts is going to be a huge inspiration for their growth.”

Saturday begins with a morning “Uncontest” for young percussionists in middle school and high school who want constructive criticism on their preparations for upcoming solo and ensemble competitions. Amanda Legner from Wesleyan University and Tony Oliver from Monmouth College will serve as judges.

Open houses for NIU’s steel pan program and gamelan orchestra are scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon.

Afternoon activities begin with a 1 p.m. orchestral clinic presented by Vadim Karpinos, an assistant timpanist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a new member of the percussion faculty at Northwestern University. Karpinos will speak on preparation techniques for successful orchestral auditions.

She-e Wu, an internationally known marimba soloist, will hold a 2 p.m. clinic. Wu will perform and listen to students who have prepared pieces to play for her. Aiyun Huang, an advocate for contemporary percussion literature from McGill University in Montreal, will give a 3 p.m. solo recital.

At 4 p.m., musicians from six Illinois public universities – NIU, the University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University, Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University – will combine for a “summit concert” called “Hands On the Arc of History: Celebrating Our Percussive Legacy and its Hope for a Better Day.”

“All the pieces on the program form an arc in history,” Beyer said. “We having music from the classical period in percussion ensemble literature, which is the 1930s and 1940s, to music written in 2008 and heading back to the classical period.”

Each university group will perform one short work. William Moersch, marimba artist and professor of percussion studies at the University of Illinois, then will conduct the combined ensembles to perform José Ardevol’s “Estudio en forma de Preludio y Fuga” written in 1933 for 31 percussionists playing 37 instruments.

Sô Percussion, a renowned quartet from Brooklyn, N.Y., will give the 7 p.m. closing performance.

“It’s going to be a wonderful day packed with activity. Percussion is a universal language and nearly ubiquitous in all of the world’s cultures. We play many instruments, but it’s not really the instruments that unify us,” Beyer said. “It’s the hitting, the scraping, the striking, the caressing. Easily readable human emotions give percussion its instant accessibility. Through the power of percussion as a medium to bring people together, we can advance the purpose of peace and understanding in society.”

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