CSU Percussion Ensemble Concert features diverse styles, instruments

Maddie Wright

First-year students performing at the University Center of the Arts in the Percussion Ensemble Sunday night. (Erica Giesenhagen | Collegian)

With hands and mallets flying to keep up with the songs, the Colorado State University Percussion Ensemble put on a strong show.

Hosted at the Griffin Concert Hall, the first act featured the Green Pan Band, the Gold Pan Band and the Ram Pan Bandensembles. 


The show started with musicians in multi-colored, button down shirts that added a level of fun and brought the party to the show. They kept to stage left for the entirety of the first section, lasting less than 30 minutes.

For the second piece, the Gold Pan Band took the stage visibly excited. They played an energetic, foot-tapping song similar to one that would play for the end credits of a feel-good movie. 

The first half of the show heavily featured steel pans, providing a fun and rhythmic environment. This gave the performance some pep and warmth with instruments typically used in Caribbean music. 

For the final song for the first act, the ensemble played the Stevie Wonder hit “Don’t You Worry About a Thing,” a chévere way to finish off the first act.

Graduate students showcasing their skill while perfoming a difficult piece. (Erica Giesenhagen | Collegian)

The second act had a shift towards more classical music, incorporating different melodies and rhythms. Performers were bouncing while playing an array of different percussion instruments including marimbas, steelpans, snare drums, bass drums and more. 

Mid-song, performers frequently switched instruments, providing movement in the performance. Sometimes during the performance, multiple people played one instrument at the same time.

The second song in the second act was composed by contemporary composer Alejandro Vinao, providing complex music for the ensemble to perform. The piece had a modern classical music style and was the only piece to feature the piano. The piece moved fluidity and was rightfully titled “Water.”

For the third piece, a graduate student took over as conductor. The piece, titled “Refuge,” featured the Swedish cowbell.  This was a primarily upperclassmen ensemble. This piece included some eerie elements, with bows creating spooky sounds. This piece had a dramatic pause only to resume intensifying the already uneasiness of the piece.

Four musicians performed the fourth piece. David Skidmore, executive director of the Grammy-award-winning percussion ensemble Third Coast Percussion ,composed the piece. Skidmore is also a former student of the performance’s director. This was inspired by “found instruments,” including pipes and wooden slabs. Found

Percussionists of all different grade levels had the oppurtunity to perform together at the University Center of the Arts Sunday night. (Erica Giesenhagen | Collegian)

instruments are created with materials that are not frequently used to create instruments. 


The show concluded with “At the Dawn of War,” a piece written in the wake of 9/11. This was a marimba orchestra featuring 14 people, both upper and under classmen. The theme of war was evident in it with the uncomfortable rhythm, interrupting sounds, snare drum rolls and triumphant songs.

CSU Percussion Ensemble displayed varying styles and instruments for an overall strong performance. 

Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @maddierwright.