Iowa Percussion to hold holiday show


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After an intense November concert series, Iowa Percussion will welcome the holidays with a percussion pops performance featuring songs of the season.

Iowa Percussion and the PanAmerican Steel will perform a free show at 7:30 p.m. today in the Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St.

"The Englert is a great venue for us," said Sue Orhon, marketing manager of the University of Iowa Division of Performing Arts. "Post-flood, we don't have any performance spaces of our own, so we work with the University and Iowa City community to find spaces that accommodate our ensemble and that are easily accessible to the students and community."

The bands will play for audiences of all ages. They will perform seasonal favorites old and new.

"We will play things such as the 'Little West African Drummer Boy,' which features a world beat twist on the 'Little Drummer Boy,' " said music Professor Daniel Moore. "[And] a rocking version of 'Carol of the Bells' and a calypso version of the Grinch song."

Moore, who has taught percussion at the UI since 1996, will conduct the ensembles.

"Nothing creates a festive mood better than percussion instruments," he said. "We use steel drums, marimbas, bells, xylophones, drums, steel pans [from the Caribbean] and all sorts of percussion instruments to create a range of interesting musical styles."

The concert will have more than 30 performers, with both graduate and undergraduate students.

One of the musicians who will perform is Dubuque native Christine Augspurger, an undergraduate percussionist in her fifth year at the university.

She said there are three different ensambles playing in the performance. Aside from the PanAmerican band, Steel Band II and Steel Band III will perform as well.

The latter two are composed of musicians who are non-majors.

Augspurger focuses on keyboard-style percussion instruments; her favorite is the marimba.

"Most of the groups playing are all steel bands," she said. "Steel drums from the Caribbean, think 'Under the Sea,' the song from The Little Mermaid."

Augspurger is excited about the opportunity to play the holiday tunes with a Caribbean twist.

"I really like Christmas music, so it's been fun to have the opportunity to play," she said. "We just came off of a really intense concert series in November, so this is a really good opportunity to chill out and have some fun. Playing in the steel band is what we all like to do."

Admission to the show is free, but in the spirit of the season, Moore said, they are asking for donations of canned goods to benefit the Johnson County Crisis Center.

The concert will provide some fun holiday music and offer a little help to others, he said.

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