Yelling echoed through the theater as Alex Smith shook and smacked his Brazilian tambourine. There was a combination of small amounts of shaking, smacking and low sounds correlated with the melody of his own voice.
The crowd was drummed up for the Percussion Concert Festival Feb. 28. The day was filled with concerts and performances from Truman High School and Northwest students while guest artists such as Smith concluded the event with their own performances.
Three guest artists, including Smith, were invited to play at the Percussion Concert Festival. Keith Aleo, who is a director of percussion at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, played the symbols, while Blake Tyson, an assistant professor of percussion at the University of Central Missouri, played his own piece on the marimba. Smith played “Unanswered” by Alexis Bacon.
Andrew Morales, who is a part-time professor at Northwest and host for the event, said that the event is fairly new.
Tyson hosts a similar event at the University of Central Missouri. The Percussion Concert Festival is modeled off of that event.
However, since the Percussion Concert is fairly new, things are still getting established. High school students, guest artists and concerts being planned are all things Morales and other Northwest students are organizing the event throughout the day.
Morales himself is running around, making sure everything is set up and people are where they need to be.
“I do the logistic stuff,” Morales said. “I make sure the guest artists are fed and corral high school students.”
While Morales is coordinating the event throughout the day, some of the Northwest music education majors volunteer their assistance. A couple of them even play at the performance at the closing of the event, along with the guest artists.
Michael Sears, a senior and an instrumental education major, played “Romantica” by Emmanuel Séjourné, a solo piece for the marimba.
Sears, in preparation for a future competition in Lebanon, Missouri, has been practicing this piece since around last September.
“It’s a unique piece,” Sears said. “It’s more melodic and roll heavy.”
Having music education majors assist with the event is filled with good experiences for them.
“They work in close proximity with guest artists,” Morales said, as he gestured to the college students bustling about and Sears, holding a pair of symbols for Aleo. “It’s important in a collegiate environment.”
These students also participate in organizing the festival, and in turn are able to create networks with the high school students, their music teachers and the guest artists that they are working with.
“Everybody is learning something in music,” Morales said. “They’re enjoying a community.”
The guest performers were able to come to Northwest through the Academic Initiatives Grant.