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On Nov. 6 the Radford University College of Visual and Performing Arts dedicated their Percussion Ensemble Concert to Elliott Carter, a renowned composer who passed away at the age of 103 the day before the concert.
Starting at 8 p.m. the Covington Center was filled with music coming from many different instruments. The performers used instruments varying from drums and cymbals to a marimba, which is like a giant xylophone. The director of the show, Dr. Rob Sanderl said “all the performers are able to play every instrument in the show to make them more marketable for the future.” Learning and practicing with the various instruments they use, the performers rehearse about 7-8 hours a week, with practice ranging from one hour to four hour sessions. Because they don’t have a conductor, the musicians have to practice in small groups.
“There is no conductor in the ensemble because I want them to rely on each other and know the music and have trust between them” said Sanderl. Jesse Lykins, who was one of the performers,said, “relying on the other members is the hardest part, but they never let each other down” and he was very proud of the concert they put on.
Sanderl is not only the director of the ensemble but he also performs with the group. He wants to make sure he is able “to keep up with his students” so he practices with them and sometimes performs with them during concerts.
The Percussion Ensemble does one concert a semester at Radford University and they do many more performances at off campus locations. They have performed internationally in Croatia and
on December 8, 2012 they will be performing at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke.
The concert was much more than just instrumentals. During the first song as they performed “Blue Burn” members of Radford’s Dance Department took the stage and performed during the song. This is not the only thing that makes the concerts unique. While having dancers perform during the performances, the ensemble also uses digital techniques to add more excitement to the shows. It seems like having these extra performers enhance the experience and one audience member said his favorite piece was “Blue Burn” because he “liked that dancers were added to the song.”
The concert was a hit and Erica Jonson, who plays the marimba, was “very excited for the concert and to be able to perform for her parents.” Many parents and students were in the audience to watch the concert. The concert was a huge success and everyone thought they did well and believing that Elliott Carter would be proud of the concert that they presented.
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