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There were only 10 members in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Percussion Ensemble, but they were powerful during their performance on Nov. 15. 

The ensemble was led by Andrew Heglund, the director, who did a great job of making the audience feel welcomed into the ensemble’s performance. 

The first piece, “Bayport Sketch,” was composed by Jared Spears and involved the ensemble along with some students in the university’s percussion methods class. 

Following this performative piece, the ensemble and some of the students performed “The Stick Shtick.” originally composed by Warren Johnson. The director said they named the piece because it was simply a piece that was learned at music camp and didn’t have an official name.

The team made the performance fun and comedic and earned laughs from the audience.

After this piece, the director had each of the students explain what their instruments do and what their instrument origins are to provide the audience with a bit more insight on what actually exists in a percussion team. It was very knowledgeable and funny to see the performers introduce their instruments.

One of the students even cracked a joke when introducing his instrument: “I want to show my parents music ed[ucation] was worth it,” he said with a laugh. 

After the comedic break in the show, they played “Spiraling Light” composed by Nathan Daughtrry and “Omphalo Centric Lecture” composed by Nigel Westlake. 

A xylophone player behind a music stand.
Rachel Jackson/Nevada Sagebrush
A member of the ensemble takes the stage at a concert last year.

Then, the next song “Pura Vida” featured Carlos Ochoa on the timbales, Derek Wahlenmaier on the vibraphone, Hans Halt on the bass and Travis Palmer on the piano. The song was originally composed by Ricardo Alvarado, and was arranged by Alvarado and Ochoa. 

This song was a fun mix of music that was quite entertaining to see played out with all the unique instruments.

The percussion then performed “Head Talk” composed by Mark Ford before taking a brief intermission. 

After the intermission, they played “Space Junk” originally composed by Ivan Trevino and narrated by Ethan Grey. The song was weird and a bit spooky, but still fit the vibe of the evening like a glove. It was also a bit goofy watching the performers act while they played. 

The ensemble played “Marimba Concerto II”, originally composed by Emmanuel Sejourne. The song featured Jacob Lara on the marimba and Heinz Denoyo on the piano. This song filled the rooms with entertaining vibes and plenty of foot-tapping all around. 

After these pieces, the university’s World Percussion Ensemble took the stage with special guest Jorge Alabê. They played “Afro-Brazilian/Afro-Cuban Fusion” which was a mix of traditional songs a part of these cultures. It was a very engaging performance and the ensemble played very smoothly with Alabê by their side, even with the shifting of instruments. 

Finally, the UNR Percussion Ensemble and the UNR World Percussion Ensemble were led by Jorge Alabê and Steven Potter to perform one last piece called “Sweet Rio”. This piece was originally composed by Aurthur Lipner and arranged by David Steinquest. 

This song was fun and wonderfully performed which made for a smooth end to the small, but engaging night for percussion students. 

Jaedyn Young can be reached at or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.

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