Colin Vandenberg

Associate Arts and Culture

On Friday, April 7, The Millersville Music Department presented a preview concert for its Day of Percussion Event.

According to Millersville Junior and percussionist Danielle Distefano, the Day of Percussion is “a Pennsylvania-wide annual event that is presented by the Percussive Arts Society (PAS).  The Percussive Arts Society is a music service organization that helps [support, and educates] percussionists from all around the world.  The Day of Percussion is an event where members of PAS can share performances, network with other schools in Pennsylvania, attend clinics, and also collaborate with world-famous artists.”

Friday’s concert included the Millersville Percussion Ensemble, but mainly featured Percussion Ensembles from Manheim Township High School and Lancaster Catholic High School. The Millersville Percussion Ensemble came on stage first, and performed “Mallet Quartet.” The song featured two xylophones and two marimbas. The marimbas drove the melody, as the tune was low pitched, and up-tempo. The lead Marimba player played with three mallets at time for a faster tempo and more intricate musicianship.

Millersville then yielded the stage to the Manheim Township Drum Ensemble, led by director Scott Siegal. Siegal commented on the difficulty of rearranging the large percussion instruments. “Logistics with percussion is always the bugaboo.”  Township began with “Rainforest Journey,” a relaxing song which heavily featured shakers. After the Xylophone feature “New South Africa, Township concluded their portion of the concert with “Millennium.” This piece featured the entire ensemble. Before Township performed the loud song, Siegal warned the audience that they may need earplugs.

Lancaster Catholic performed next. Their first piece was  lively quartet on the box-like instrument the cajones. Director Paul Murr joined his students on-stage. He noted that he needed to find his own chair to sit in: “You didn’t get one for me?” Muur, like Siegal, lamented the time and energy involved in moving and rearranging percussion instruments: “Why didn’t I just play trumpet?”

Lancaster Catholic also performed chance music titled “Radio Music.” Two band performers—one on the stage and one in the left-side balcony—each operated an old analog radio. They turned up the volume and flipped through the dials, producing a sound that was a strange mixture of static, song fragments, advertisements, and DJ announcements.  Lancaster Catholic ended the evening with a “Keep Movin’” a spirited, syncopated piece featuring Senior Kyle Postlehwait on xylophone.

According to Millersville Percussion Ensemble director James Armstrong, High schools which performed in the Day of Percussion event on Saturday included Ephrata High School Percussion Ensemble (Stephen Goss, director), West Chester Honors Percussion Ensemble (Brent Behrenhausen, director), Lancaster All-Star High School Percussion Ensemble (James Armstrong, director).

College ensembles which performed included: Juniata College Percussion Ensemble (Dr. James Latten, director), West Chester University Percussion Ensemble (Ralph Sorrentino, director), Messiah College Percussion Ensemble (Dr. Erik Forst, director), Kutztown University Percussion Ensemble (Dr. Frank Kumor, director). Millersville ensembles included Millersville University Percussion Ensemble, Millersville Steel Band, Steel, and MU Caribe (James Armstrong directed all MU performances. Saturday Evening featured Master Class presentations from guest artists including Dr. Eric Frost (Marimba Presentation), James Armstrong (conga drums), and acclaimed drum-set artist DAFNIS PRIETO.

According to Danielle Distefano, “Being involved with so many aspects of the day, it made the event go very smoothly. We] presented ourselves very well to the incoming performers.  The crowd mostly consisted of other performers and parents, so everyone was very supportive of each other.  Everyone loved MU Steel’s lunchtime concert in the Atrium, and also enjoyed them performing with Dafnis in our Gala Concert.  I personally performed with MU Caribe and MU Steel, and it was a great experience to perform with my colleagues once again in Biemsderfer Performance Hall.”