Music instructor Isaac Pyatt directed his percussion ensemble students and other instructors in a fall concert at the Yeager Recital Hall on Nov. 1.
“In this ensemble we have students studying in different schools here at Elon and have come together just out of the joy of making music together,” Pyatt said.
In his first semester at Elon University, Pyatt taught the ensemble of five students who enrolled in the Percussion Ensemble class this fall, all of varying ages and majors. In addition to the five students, professor Mariana Poole, drumline instructor for Elon’s marching band — the Fire of the Carolinas — Alex Richard and Pyatt also participated in the concert. Despite the differences in age and majors, all of the students who performed had a background in music.
“I’ve been playing piano for the majority of my life,” said Faith Almond, a sophomore majoring in creative writing. “I’m on my 15th year and I play piano in the marching band here too.”
The diversity of students' ages and their majors is also reflected in the percussion instruments and pieces that were played during the concert.
“We’ve got a lot of music for different percussion instruments that embodies different ideas of people coming together to make music in this shared space,” Pyatt said.
The third piece in the program, “Sequoia,” consisted of all eight members of the ensemble banging mallets against flower pots and pausing within the piece to actively listen.
“‘Sequoia’ really examines how we react to the nature of our environment, and how we can blend the walls between the space we are performing in and our natural world,” Pyatt said. The ensemble were nervous about performing the piece but were elated following the end of the concert.
“I was nervous because I always get nervous for concerts,” Almond said. “But this went way better than I thought it would go and I feel really good about the performance that I did and that all of my peers did.” Despite taking the ensemble out of their comfort zone, Pyatt had faith in them.
“I think it took them out of their comfort zone,” Pyatt said. “Not too far out, they’re still comfortable and still performing it, but sitting on the ground and actively listening was a part of that piece in the score. So we are just sitting there listening, and they certainly did a great job.”
Other pieces included “Postludes,” which consisted of the ensemble members playing a vibraphone using bows that are traditionally used for stringed instruments.
“There’s so many pieces that have been written in the past few years and they can trace the origin back to ‘Postludes,’” Pyatt said. “This created a little subgenre of a subgenre of a subgenre that is percussion music that is for people playing a vibraphone together.”
The concert closed with “Shared Space,” where seven of the ensemble members performed on stage.
“It embodies this idea of people coming together and making music together.” Pyatt said.
The piece includes the students playing the vibraphone and the glockenspiel while Pyatt plays a wooden block and Poole plays a snare drum. Almond said the piece was incredibly personal to her.
“I found that piece on YouTube in my recommendations many, many, many, moons ago and I thought to myself I have to play this before I graduate,” Almond said. “I didn’t even bring it up to Isaac but I got to the first rehearsal and he pulled out shared space and I was so excited.”
Percussion Ensemble will be offered again next semester and their next concert will be in April 2024.