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NIU ensemble to showcase keyboard percussion Monday

Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST

The Northern Illinois University Percussion Ensemble will take the stage in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall at 8 p.m. Monday to showcase the beauty and versatility of the keyboard percussion instrument family.

The marimba, vibraphone and glockenspiel are central instruments in percussion solo and chamber repertoire.

NIU Percussion Ensemble directors Gregory Beyer and Michael Mixtacki have programmed an entire concert of works featuring these instruments and the many different kinds of compositions that explore their wonderful sounds.

The program kicks off with graduate student Nick Fox playing an intense vibraphone solo by Philippe Manoury called “Le Livre des Claviers.”

Dispersed throughout the program are a series of short pieces by composer Elliot Cole, titled “Postludes.” These pieces are for four players on one vibraphone, all using string bass bows to sustain pitches and create many unique textures.

Composer Akira Nishimura is known for several pieces based on Southeast Asian musical concepts, and especially their relation to gamelan. The NIU students will be performing his work, “Ektal,” for three marimbas and two hand drummers.

Many styles of music have been adapted for percussion ensemble, including contemporary jazz. Pianist and composer Chick Corea wrote a series of children’s songs for solo piano, which have been adapted for keyboard percussion quartet. This set of three songs, arranged by David Steinquest, features a mix of both marimba and vibraphone for a light and playful listening experience.

The concert also will feature one of composer Kevin Bobo’s compositions titled “Insomnia.” Lastly, the ensemble will conclude the evening with Ivan Trevino’s “Six,” inspired by the Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós.

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