Students, faculty, staff and members of the community from around Hattiesburg took a small break from their Monday evening to listen to the USM Percussion studio concert on April 30.
The concert featured coordinator of percussion at the University of North Texas Mark Ford and was packed with music that was intense, involved and at times humorous.
Josh Menard, senior music education major, was incredibly thankful and reflective not only of the chance to perform with Mark Ford, but also for all he has learned while being in the percussion studio.
“I love [the percussion studio],” Menard said. “I came here with little experience, and I’ve learned so much since I’ve gotten here. I really take enjoyment in playing all of the instruments [in the percussion family.]”
Menard performed with over 30 other members of the studio during the concert, including a fun performance-art piece written by Mark Ford and his wife Ewelina Bernacka Ford. The work, entitled “Coffee Break,” was a humorous illustration of friends getting together for coffee and having a good time and intricately drumming with their empty coffee cups.
“I never drank coffee until I met my wife,” Ford said. “After we met, I began to drink it. We had always joked around about writing a piece about coffee, and after some serious thought on the matter we sat down and wrote it together.”
The piece was an obvious hit with the audience. Individuals within the group, including Menard, not only executed the rhythmic requirements of the piece, but also acted the whole performance.
After “Coffee Break,” Ford came forward to perform another work of his entitled “Moon Chasers.” The piece is about two lovers separated by a great distance, but connected by the moon. The flowing melodies and haunting harmonies carried a sobering moment, but one that was greatly enjoyed by the audience. The performance was also visually aided by a video.
The concert concluded after a few more pieces and the crowd left happy and musically fulfilled.
“The percussion ensemble concerts are my favorite to attend, because you always leave fulfilled and in a better mood than you came in,” first year DMA candidate Heather Gering said. “The virtuosic and oftentimes humorous performances by this studio can take anyone’s mood and shift it for the better. It is a valuable trait among musicians to not be too stuffy, and the percussion ensembles are able to do that with ease. Mark Ford and the entire studio were able to perform virtuosic and complex music, all while making it fun and down to earth.”
The next performance by the Percussion Studio will be at the Thirsty Hippo on May 8 at 7:30 p.m. for the end of semester Jazz Juries.
If anyone who missed this performance by the percussion studio does not want to miss more, the group’s studio page can be found on Facebook at USM Percussion.