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Percussion Ensemble Makes Music with Unconventional Instruments

Spring concert includes “Table Music,” a piece performed by a trio of student-musicians who use actual desks and tables to create their sound.

The Alma College Percussion EnsembleThe Alma College Percussion Ensemble

The Alma College Percussion Ensemble will play both traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments — including bottles, desks and tables — during its annual spring concert.

Performance time is 8 p.m. Saturday, March 30 in the Remick Heritage Center, Presbyterian Hall. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call (989) 463-7304 for ticket information.

The 19-member group, directed by David Zerbe, will perform eight pieces during the concert that is expected to last just over an hour.

The concert will begin with a piece by Alma College alumnus Justin Rito. “Drift” will feature McBride junior Anna Dobyns, Howell junior Jacob Holt and Essexville senior Zavien Stickler. Each percussionist will use a bass drum, tom-toms and three bottles—a pop bottle, a beer bottle and an empty fifth of Jack Daniels.

“We are very excited to be playing this piece,” says Zerbe. “Justin Rito continues to be a wind arranger for our Kiltie Marching Band each fall. In fact, he is writing our show for the coming fall.”

Percussion intern Dave Fair will join the ensemble for “White Pines” by Michael Burritt. Fair will play marimba accompanied by a student percussion quartet.

The program also will feature Paul Creston’s “Ceremonial,” featuring seven percussionists and a pianist.

“’Ceremonial’ is part of the more traditional percussion ensemble repertoire,” says Zerbe. “It a piece that is sort of isolated, aboriginal and non-Western in nature.”

Concluding the first half will be a piece with a French title that translates to “Table Music,” performed by a trio of first-year students who will use desks and tables to create their music.

“The idea is to make all sorts of hand motions and different sounds from these surfaces,” says Zerbe. “It is a very cool piece to both hear and see.”

The second half of the concert will feature more common jazz percussion and steel drum pieces. Among these works are “Phase Dance” by Pat Metheny, “Oasis” by Dave Grusin and “Song for My Father” by Horace Silver. Zerbe will join the ensemble for the final piece of the concert, “Sir Duke,” by Stevie Wonder.

Story published on March 14, 2019