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Percussionists play at the Riverside Recital Hall

BY JULIA JESSEN | FEBRUARY 09, 2012 7:20 AM

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As the thunder rolls in, the storm begins and creates symphonies of deep reverberation. This music is not exactly the natural occurrence one might expect — it is the sound of performers in Iowa Percussion shaking sheets of thin aluminum that stand 4 to 8 feet tall.

"As percussionists, we try to make music out of literally everything," said Devon Curry, a member of Iowa Percussion.

The musicians will start to make everything into an instrument in the Riverside Recital Hall at 3 p.m. Saturday, when Iowa Percussion will perform in an Arts Share concert with the theme "Music From (Nearly) Nothing."

The musicians in the group said percussion allows them to play in a variety of musical genres with many types of instruments, and they never get bored.

"I can play everything from classical music to jazz and world music to contemporary music," said music Professor Dan Moore, the director of the group. "I can easily switch from drums to melodic instruments, then African drums to crash cymbals, depending on how I feel."

In the concert, the musicians will use "found" objects, items people wouldn't normally think of as being musical instruments.

UI senior and percussion-performance major Christine Augspurger said that frequently, composers use vague terms for what instruments should be used, such as metal or wood. It becomes the performers' job to find sounds that best fit the composition.

"Having the right piece of wood can really change the whole sound of whatever you're doing, so all of us spent a lot of time digging through our closets and going to Ace Hardware and thrift stores and coming up with all kinds of different stuff," she said.

Because the performance is part of the Arts Share series, it will be appealing and accessible for people of all ages, the musicians say.

"It's been really geared toward families," said Curry. "It's a good way to introduce kids to a more classical style of music, but it's not really heavy and dense. It's really light."

The concert also provides a stimulating experience for the eyes as well as the ears.

"Percussion concerts are always fun, because you're not just listening, you're totally watching," Augspurger said. "There are tons of people and things to see and interesting sounds."

The musicians said they want audience members to take away a little more knowledge about what they are doing as percussionists from the concert and learn that beautiful music can be found in unusual places.

"Just because you're not playing a violin concerto or listening to an orchestra doesn't mean that it's not classical music and potentially really beautiful," Augspurger said.

Moore said he wants to show people that percussion is not just loud and noisy but rather a complex and varied music that is also fun.

"It isn't every day that you can hear musicians playing music using a children's audio story book, toys, and everything else," he said. "Including the kitchen sink — literally."


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