Percussion Ensemble places second at state
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
The Glenwood Springs High School Percussion Ensemble placed second in the open class division at the Rocky Mountain Percussion Association’s state championship held last weekend in Denver.
The 19 students in the Glenwood Springs ensemble competed against four other teams, finishing in the top three in their division in the semifinals and then going on, six hours later, to place second in the division finals.
“When they took their position on the floor, it was with confidence and energy that could be felt by the packed crowd during their four-part performance,” said Jim Frale, parent of one of the percussionists.
He said the performance piece included a ” beautiful mix of rhythms and technically challenging efforts” that led to a strong second-place finish just three points behind the division winner, Golden High School.
“We did a very exposed show. The kids were playing a lot of fast lines together,” said Adam Solomon, the ensemble’s director. “The point is to play as well as we can and qualify for the big leagues.”
Percussion ensembles play a virtual orchestra of instruments that are played by striking or shaking, including the marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, timpani, hand drums, concert snare drum, concert bass drum, chimes, glockenspiel, triangle, tam-tam (or gong) and synthesizer.
The Glenwood Springs players practice twice a week from 4-7 p.m. in what Solomon calls “incredibly focused” rehearsals.
State and national percussion ensemble competition is divided into three levels based on the group’s experience and size. Beginning groups start in the “A” class, intermediates compete in the “Open” class, and advanced groups are in “World” class.
The Glenwood Springs group, now in its sixth year, has been competing in open class for the past three years. With this year’s success, the ensemble will have the option of moving up to compete in the world class next year.
That will mean more rehearsals and practice, Solomon noted, so no decisions have been made about whether to move up.
All the competitions are held on the Front Range, and the Glenwood Springs ensemble is the only one to travel over the mountains. Last weekend, that meant the group got stuck in Denver when a winter storm closed the passes, and the busload of students didn’t make it home until Monday.
Solomon, who is the general music teacher at Wamsley Elementary School in Rifle, said he is always looking to recruit younger students into the program.
“Most of these kids who are in the ensemble now started as sixth and seventh graders. That means we have been able to evolve the program. Their technique and musical understanding is always improving,” Solomon said.
In an effort to recruit new players, particularly since five of this year’s ensemble are graduating seniors, Solomon is offering a summer and fall percussion program that is open to all students in middle and high school. The rehearsals will be every other week, starting in June.
The program starts with open rehearsals where students can try many different instruments. Then practice starts in earnest, including a three-day intensive in August, to prepare for performances during halftime at most of the Glenwood Springs High School football home games.
In addition, the Glenwood Springs Percussion Ensemble will be giving a special performance prior to the end of the school year at Glenwood Springs Middle School, aimed at recruiting incoming high school freshmen.
Any middle or high school students interested in participating in the summer program should email Solomon at email@example.com.
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