Los Angeles-based session and touring percussionist Alex Acuna will offer a drum clinic at Southern Oregon University's Day of Percussion. - Photo courtesy of SOU

It's all about the rhythm

Percussionists and nonpercussionists can join in a day of percussive arts this weekend at Southern Oregon University.

Terry Longshore, director of percussion studies, and instructor Bryan Jeffs have set up clinics, a workshop, a drumming circle and student recitals, all culminating in an evening show, for Saturday, April 21, in the Music Building on the SOU campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

"We held a similar event two years ago, and we got a mixed bag of drummers," Longshore says. "We do this to share the world of percussion and to bring world-class artists to the Rogue Valley. It's a chance to get up close and personal with professional musicians who play many different instruments and many types of music."

Look for a Japanese taiko drumming workshop with Kelvin Underwood at 9:30 a.m. Underwood is a percussionist with the Los Angeles-based taiko quartet, On Ensemble, and this year's Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of "Henry V."

Matthew Coley, a professor of percussion at Iowa State University, will offer a marimba clinic at 11 a.m. Coley performs as a soloist and with orchestras throughout the United States and Europe.

Alex Acuña, a percussionist from Los Angeles who has worked as a session and touring musician with such artists as Carlos Santana, Paul McCartney and Chick Corea, will lead a drum-set clinic at 1:30 p.m. Acuña has recorded four instructional videos and presents seminars at universities and the country's top music schools.

"He's also one of the cajon guys," Longshore says. "This week he's at a cajon festival in Peru with about 2,000 other cajon players. It's wild."

Kerry "Shakerman" Greene's drum circle at 5:30 p.m. will lead participants on a path to self-discovery using drums, shakers and other percussive instruments.

Student recitals will begin at 3:30 p.m. and include music by the Ashland High School Percussion Ensemble and SOU quartet, Reso-Nation.

The SOU Percussion Ensemble will perform two Zimbabwean pieces, along with "A Maroon Hog's Revel Frog," written for the ensemble by Jeffs. The piece is for marimbas, vibraphones, xylophone, drums, junk percussion and bass and is inspired by the music of Frank Zappa and John Bergamo.

The day culminates with a concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Music Recital Hall.

Underwood will lead a large taiko ensemble featuring eight SOU students in Maki Ishii's "Monochrome."

"It's one of the rare pieces written for taiko," Underwood says. "It explores the sound qualities of the shime-daiko, a smaller drum that makes a high-pitched sound. Near the end, I'll be playing a larger drum, a chu-daiko.

"Taiko is a physically demanding art," he says. "The visual aesthetic is as important as the music, and the movements reflect the sounds."

Underwood also will perform his original piece, "Pieces Remain," with upright bassist Tristan Gutner and sax player Steve Davidson. "Pieces" explores jazz and different timbres of taiko. See www.meidoko.com for more about Underwood and his taiko projects.

Coley will perform several of his solo compositions for marimba, along with Yevhen Stankovych's "Labyrinth" with students Jordan Levelle, Sean Muri and Sean Siders.

Acuña will perform Latin percussion as a soloist and also with pre-recorded tracks.

Registration for Day of Percussion costs $30 and includes lunch and the evening concert. Tickets cost $10 for the concert only. Call 541-552-6899 to register. Call 541-552-6101 to purchase concert tickets.

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