Percussion faculty gives virtuosic performance

Zachary Massey / Cluster Staff
Zachary Massey / Cluster Staff

Director of Percussion Studies since 2006, Dr. Marcus Reddick, gave a solo recital on Friday, Oct. 25, in Mercer’s Fickling Hall. Reddick is not only a noted professor, but he is also an experienced performer.

As he walked on stage to a welcoming applause, Reddick explained the instrumental setup for his first piece, clearly demonstrating extensive knowledge of his craft.  He then introduced the first piece, “Spider Walk,” joking that, with Halloween so close, he considered dressing up as a spider for the piece. Although he only has two arms, the speed at which he played sounded as though he was a spider with eight appendages.  Despite the difficult repertoire, he maintained focus. Instead of getting lost in a whirlwind of rhythms, he flew through them flawlessly.  When the piece came to an end, the audience gave a roaring applause.

The next piece Reddick performed was “Five Short Works for Marimba.” This piece requires the use of six different mallets simultaneously. The ability to manage six mallets at once takes years of practice and endurance.  Despite the difficulty of this maneuver, Reddick performed with ease.

Reddick then performed “Bongo-0” by Roberto Sierra. During certain points in the music, Reddick used a chant-like vocal percussion. The piece also required extended technique by drumming down on the base of the drum stand.  These entertaining surprises combined with Reddick’s incredible focus made for an eccentric and fun piece to listen to.

Reddick was then joined on stage by faculty musician Dr. Monty Cole. He accompanied Reddick on saxophone in a piece called “Strange Dreams.” This four-movement piece was accompanied by a short story written by Brian Andreas. The final movement, “Pools of Light,” clearly reflected its story counterpart: “My favorite time of day is just after dark when all the thoughts of what must be done stop and small pools of light come alive on tired faces everywhere.”  Cole’s warm and soothing melodies and Reddick’s carefully constructed rhythms allowed the listeners to experience their own “small pools of light” as all the stress of the day melted away.

Following the duet was Ricardo A. Coelho de Souza’s piece “Caxixando.”  During the middle of this work, Reddick allowed some audience participation.  He would play a rhythm, and the audience had to echo it back to him.  He started off simple, and as he increased the level of difficulty, it became extremely entertaining.  Although not everyone could keep up with him, the audience responded with laughter when they realized the difficulty of his art.

Reddick was then joined by senior and Percussion Performance major, Andrew Bennett.  Bennett has been a student of Reddick’s since high school, and will be graduating next May.  Together, they performed a challenging piece called “Eight on 3 and Nine on 2” by Robert Marino. Playing completely in sync across from each other, it appeared as if there was a mirror between them due to their precise and coordinated movements. Their teamwork and talent as individuals was evident, and they did a fantastic job with such a fascinating piece of music.

To conclude the evening, Reddick walked back on to the stage with a somber air about him.  His mood had shifted significantly.  As he opened his mouth to speak about his last piece, he struggled to find the words.  It was obvious there was something heavy on his heart.  He explained that he had composed the piece for his grandparents when they passed away.  He then shared that his parents recently passed away as well.  He remembered aloud calling them after every performance, wishing he could still do that today. After taking a brief moment to compose himself, he explained that he would like to dedicate the final piece of music to his parents. Sometimes there are no words, but music has a way of expressing emotions when words fail.  Before he began to play he managed to say, “Without them I wouldn’t be here.”  When the music began, the hall filled with emotion as he conveyed his loss in every note he played.  When he was finished, he blew a kiss up toward the sky.  He walked off stage to a standing ovation and returned again when the crowd continued applause.  Because of his ability to capture an audience, the applause continued for many minutes, concluding an evening of unforgettable sentiment.