Marimbas and more: Percussion ensemble to perform concert


Rob Schoolfield leads the percussion ensemble in rehearsal for the concert tonight in Stratton Hall. Photo: Ethan Rogers

What do you think about when you hear the words “percussion ensemble?” Do you picture a group of people just hitting and tapping objects? Maybe you think of repetitious pounding noises and too-loud drum beats. Think again.

The BJU Percussion Ensemble’s concert tonight at
5 p.m. in Stratton Hall will challenge your perception of percussion music. Several pieces the ensemble will perform come from contemporary composers Frank McCarty and Joseph Tompkins, who compose music specifically for percussion instruments. These pieces range from whimsical tunes on the marimba to majestic drum rolls.

Several pieces focus on specific instruments, while others use nearly all of them, said Rob Schoolfield, associate professor of instrumental studies, who leads the ensemble. One piece by Tompkins, “Board Games,” focuses on just three boards of wood. The most expansive piece, however, is “Arcanical Plains” by Christopher Deane, which uses every instrument from vibraphones to marimbas. The concert will close with a percussion rendition of the well-known hymn, “And Can It Be?”

The BJU percussion ensemble, begun by Schoolfield in 1986, consists of 10 students who meet twice a week to hone their percussion skills.

Although many people may think percussion instruments are easy to play, it turns out to be quite the opposite. “You don’t walk up and hit something with the first thing you can grab,” Schoolfield said. “There’s a way to set our instruments in motion so that the instrument releases its best tone without abusing it.”

Being a member of the percussion ensemble allows students to learn the proper techniques and methods for producing these rhythmic tones. Schoolfield said each percussion instrument has a proper stick to strike it with and a proper place to strike it to get the best sound. “That’s the teaching we do,” Schoolfield said.

The concert is free and open to the public. If you have any questions concerning the ensemble, or if you would like to audition for next year’s ensemble, please contact Mr. Rob Schoolfield at [email protected].