Bi-annual event drums up passion for percussion

By Narjes Al-Bakshy
albakshyna@mnstate.edu

On Saturday, Nov. 15, MSUM’s music department will host the fifth bi-annual tradition of the Day of Percussion. Percussion is any instrument that is struck, hit or shaken with the hand; half of the ballroom will be filled with drum sets, marimbas, snare drums and more.
Led by Dr. Kenyon Williams, music professor at MSUM who specializes in percussion and world music, the day-long event, planned a year in advance, celebrates the art of drums.
“It is designed to bring in community members as well as MSUM students and guest artists to perform clinics and performances,” Williams said. “That’s the main backbone of the Day of Percussion.”
Starting at 9:30 a.m., doors will open to a series of clinics and workshops from drum artists for fellow musicians, students, faculty and the general public to learn and enjoy the various forms of drum beats from different genres and countries.
Some of the notable guests include: Andy Narell, a Paris-based American pioneer of Trinidadian steel pan, Mark Walker, five-time Grammy Award winning drummer, MSUM’s Kyai Madu, an Indonesian Gamelan performer and Los Angeles’ Brad Lutz, a music composer of funky drum sound effects for movies and television shows such as ‘American Dad’ and ‘Firefly’.
Students from MSUM’s steel band, ‘Fuego Tropical,’ the College of Saint Scholastica from Brainerd, Minn., University of Mary and Saint Mary’s Central High School of Bismarck, N.D. will also conduct performances.
MSUM senior music major Daniel Rasmussen is excited to be a part of the Day of Percussion for the second time.
“I think it’s a really unique experience that you don’t find in many other places,” Rasmussen said. “This event is essentially the only place where you’ll get to hear Trinidadian steel drums and Indonesian gamelan in the same place.”
The Day of Percussion is a great opportunity for students to learn from notable artists and collaborate with them.
“It’s great to bring artists here to the upper Midwest and work with students,” Williams said.
The guest artists motivate music students to gain a sense of the music industry and view them as a benchmark to their future plans.
“(Andy Narell and Mark Walker) are a real inspiration to the rest of the group and me,” Rasmussen said. “They really show us, as students, that we can achieve success as professional musicians no matter what instrument is our passion.”
At 5 p.m., a mass concert dubbed ‘The Evening of Steel’ will take place, with performances by 75 students, musicians and guests to conclude the event.
The concert includes several compositions by Andy Narell himself, who enjoys working with students.
“I get to teach the subject I know best – how to play the music I’ve composed for steel band,” Narell said. “I get a lot of great energy back from the kids and they get benefit of working with the composer of the music they’ve been studying, and getting direction from someone with 50-plus years of experience.”
Attending the event is a chance that does not come by often, especially in Fargo-Moorhead.
“You don’t usually get to see a concert like this in one location at one time unless you live in a place like New York City, and even then only on special events,” Williams said. “Anyone who loves a great performance will be in for a great treat. It will be a blast.”
Tickets can be found at tickets.mnstate.edu.

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