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“Looking back on my collegiate career, I couldn’t be happier with the progress and achievements that I have made. I truly do not believe I would have been able to accomplish all of this anywhere else,” said Luke Helker, senior music major at Millersville University. Helker, a percussion major, performed his junior recital last spring and performed an optional senior recital Sunday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Winter Center.
Helker began his performance with the piece “Mobile” by Glenn Kotche, the rhythmic director in the well-loved band Wilco and founding member of two other bands, Loose Fur and On Filmore.
“Mobile” was written to be performed on an augmented drum kit and audio playback and consists of three major sections, with each focusing on a different area of the percussion setup. The first part focuses on the croatales and bell, the second on the snare and mounted tom and the third on the full drum kit and stacked cymbals.
Helker then performed three movements from “Eight Pieces for Four Timpani (one player)” by Elliott Carter; V. Improvisation, VII. Canaries and VIII. March. Each movement showcases the both the complexity of rhythm and the nature of the Timpani as an instrument. The performer creates a wide array of different tones and sounds on four drums by playing on multiple areas on the head of the drum.
The next piece Helker played was the premiere performance “Timestream” by Timar Quinn Shevlin, a senior at Franklin & Marshall College. Sheylin, though still a young composer, has been commissioned by various ensembles in the area to compose new work. He plans on continuing his education by pursuing a Master’s degree in music composition.
The fourth composition performed was “Cage for One” by Dwayne Corbin. Helker performed the movements “I. Nothing,” “II. Soliloquy” and “III. Deconstruction (Quartet).” “Cage for One” is a piece that has been composed over the duration of many years. The now third movement was written in 1999, and in the nine years the followed, so were the first and second. The first movement is based upon an excerpt from “Lecture on Nothing,” a speech by Cage and is recited while a metronome is played. The second movement was inspired by the “Trip from Amores,” and is played on five woodblocks that are each assigned a specific rhythm. The final movement is based on the structure and instrumentation of Third Construction; the idea was to explore complex polyrhythms and thick textures through only one player.
Helker next performed “Three Movements for a Solo Dancer” composed by Eckhard Kopetzki. The movements are I. Mysterious Love, II. Dance on a Shattered Mirror and III. Memory of a Mystery,” and together, they are written as a marimba solo designed to evoke the beauty and mystery of a solo dancer in very powerful and vulnerable forms.
The final piece, “Scenes from the Woods,” was composed by Brian Blume. It was written as a reflection of the times Blume spent in the woods near where he was raised. The fast-paced movements reminisce on games like tag or hide-and-seek and the slow ones evoke a feeling of quiet solitude, the sun’s rays slicing through the leaves and the sensation of a rainy day.
Helker delivered his performance with a relaxed demeanor, even cracking some jokes between pieces.
“I received a lot of comments on my relaxed demeanor and truth be told, I was even surprised with how I carried myself. Compared to my junior recital, which I was not pleased with, this performance felt much more organic and natural; like I was playing music for the sake of playing music and not for the sake of a grade or establishing a reputation.”
Helker, just a few weeks before graduation, shared his musings on graduating from college with a degree in music.
“If there would be any takeaway message that I have learned over the past 4 years it would be to ’embrace your art as a lifestyle.’ No matter what your professional practice may be, once you begin to revolve your daily rituals around the thing you love to do, you start to feel more complete as a person.”