Prominent percussionists will join Eastman Contemporary Percussion at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 10, in Kilbourn Hall to present a program covering half a century of percussion ensemble music. The event is free and open to the public.
The concert features the ensemble’s founder, John Beck, professor of percussion at the Eastman School of Music, for his last concert as the group’s director. He will be joined by popular Rochester percussionist and instrument-maker Ward Hartenstein; Stanley Leonard, who served as principal timpanist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for 38 years; and Gordon Peters, former percussionist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame. Beck, Leonard, and Peters were percussion students together at the Eastman School of Music in the 1950s.
The Contemporary Percussion Ensemble was established in 1959; the group’s performances feature from three to six musicians, depending on the requirements of the works performed. The April 10 concert program will feature an expanded ensemble presenting music written by Beck, Leonard, and Peters.
“The percussion ensemble movement started in 1933 with a performance of ‘Ionization’ by Edgard Varèse,” said Beck. “However, it did not make its way into academia until 1950 at the University of Illinois. The three of us were riding on the coat tails of this movement, and wrote our compositions. Although none of these compositions were written in the 50s, the ideas for them started with us as students at the Eastman School of Music. Before our works are performed, we the composers will talk briefly about each one of them.”
Beck, who retires this spring, has been teaching at the Eastman School for 49 years. His career as a performer included posts with the United States Marine Band and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; he was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1999.
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Eastman Contemporary Percussion. Guest percussionists Ward Hartenstein, Stanley Leonard, and Gordon Peters join the ensemble and ensemble founder and director John Beck.
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