Percussion Ensemble reflects reputation of UW-Eau Claire music program

Students showcased their skills with percussion instruments in the Haas Fine Arts Center

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Photo by Sam Farley

A group of 17 UW-Eau Claire students played five songs during the concert under the direction of Conductor Jeffery Crowell.

In a dimly lit concert hall in the Haas Fine Arts Center on Sunday night, 17 UW-Eau Claire students came together to put on a show with a variety of percussion instruments.

The Department of Music and Theatre Arts presented a Percussion Ensemble last Sunday night. A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck by a beater, by hand or against another similar instrument.

Conductor Jeffery Crowell led the performance of 17 students in the Gantner Concert Hall, where the group performed five songs: “Electric Counterpoint” by Steve Reich, “Toyama” by Michael Udow, “Lullaby” by Alvin Chea and Ivan Lins, “Glow” by Dave Molk and “Jose/beFORe JOHN5” by Aurel Hollo. Some pieces were performed as an entire unit, while just three or four members performed other songs for a more intimate feeling.

Another factor that contributed to a more personal atmosphere in the concert hall was the audience. Comprising almost exclusively family and friends of those performing, the crowd of approximately 20 people made for a cozy and supportive atmosphere.

One audience member who was there in support of a friend was William Baillargeon, an integrated strategic communication student. Baillargeon said he enjoyed the ensemble and would definitely go again to a variety of different shows for the music program.

“My favorite pieces were the first and last ones,” Baillargeon said. “The first one (“Electric Counterpoint”) made you follow along and made you feel both relaxed and excited. I felt the last piece (“Jose/beFORe JOHN5”) was very exciting and fast-paced.”

Baillargeon said he originally thought about majoring in music before coming to Eau Claire as a first-year student, due to the exceptional reputation of the music program. Although he ultimately decided on a different major, he has still taken part in the music program as a member of both instrumental and choral music.

The lure of Eau Claire’s music program also brought in Cassie Freeman, who performed in “Electric Counterpoint” and “Lullaby.” Freeman, a first-year music education student, said she knew music was at the top of her priority list when choosing schools, and Eau Claire’s music program was top-notch.

“When I toured it (UW-Eau Claire), I fell in love,” Freeman said. “Everyone was so friendly and I met some of the music professors and they were all outstanding.”

Coming from a small town in Wisconsin, Freeman said she has been exposed to several new percussion instruments in her time at Eau Claire, despite playing since the sixth grade.

“Coming here, I never played the marimba or a vibraphone and so many instruments that I’ve never been exposed to,” Freeman. “I just love them all now.”

Similar to Baillargeon, Freeman said her favorite piece of the night was the finale, “Jose/beFOReJOHN5.” This fan favorite may be due to the level of difficulty of the song. Freeman said the practice for this piece has been nonstop since the beginning of the school year, with those involved meeting almost daily for hours at a time.