Valley Steel percussion band performs with community members

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The Department of Music presented a concert showcasing the SVSU percussion ensemble, Valley Steel Band, and Heritage High School’s percussion ensemble on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

Attendees heard an eclectic selection of music. Pieces included Music for Pieces of Wood, Tokoyo Fusion and Nagoya Marimbas.

Communication sophomore Raegan Schultz enjoyed hearing the unique steel drums.

“My favorite song was ‘Lampin,’” Schultz said. “It had a cool Caribbean feel, and I really like the unique instruments they were using.”

Conversely, music education sophomore Rebecca Thompson enjoyed the more traditional style of music.

“My favorite part was the first piece, ‘Triplets,’” Thompson said. “I thought that it was a really fun piece. I think the piece had a nice melodic line and harmony.”

The concert allowed musicians, like music education major Adam Coggins, to learn about different instruments and develop new skills.

“I have never played a steel pan instrument before I came to college,” Coggins said. “So I was used to everything else on stage, but steel pan was a whole new beast for me.”

Valley Steel director and music professor Brandon Haskett commented on the diverse backgrounds and experience levels of the performers.

“Anyone that reads music can be a member,” Haskett said. “We have had music majors, non-majors, as well as some local high school students perform.”

This semester, Haskett and percussion ensemble director Patrick Fitzgibbon worked with an SVSU alum, Katie Jessop, to bring some high schoolers to the SVSU stage.

“Jessop is a recent music education graduate and is now the percussion instructor at Heritage High School,” Haskett said. “She suggested the collaboration on a piece she arranged. Between her, myself and professor Fitzgibbon, we agreed to collaborate on a combined piece.”

“Beirut,” the combined final piece, proved to be the favorite of performers, who enjoyed playing with alumni, community members and high schoolers.

“’Beirut’ was my favorite piece to perform,” Coggins said. “Everyone got to play together, and I think it was a great experience for the high schoolers and the college students.”

Computer science freshman Josh Braley agreed.

“’Beirut’ was my favorite piece to perform because it was fun, and it just sounds cool,” Braley said. “But it was a challenge to fit everything on stage.”

Overall, the concert was a success.

“I felt that we had good energy while performing and everyone seemed to enjoy the performance,” Haskett said. “For the high school students, it was nice to get them on campus and have them be part of something rewarding and successful.”

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