In Gamelan Bintang Wahyu, Percussion









An Evening of Percussion includes performances by BYU’s Percussion Ensemble, Gamelan Bintang Wahyu and Panoramic Steel

Three ensembles will perform as part of an “Evening of Percussion,” on Nov. 4.

The Percussion Ensemble, directed by professor of percussion performance, Matt Coleman, will start the evening off with “Music for Pieces of Wood” by Steve Reich.

“The piece is representative of the minimalist movement, a composition style the composer has championed for over four decades,” Coleman explained. “It is for five pitched claves, or wood dowels struck together and involves both additive and diminutive processes that are apparent as different players layer into the performance. While the various parts are gradually established, the piece simultaneously diminishes in complexity and builds in intensity, ending in a layered flurry of rhythm.”

The ensemble will also perform “Crown of Thorns” by David Maslanka, who published nearly 130 pieces for a wide variety of instrumentation but is best known for his wind ensemble compositions. “Crown of Thorns” is one of his most prominent works for percussion ensemble.

The performance of “Crown of Thorns” will be in honor of Maslanka, who passed away in August of this year.

The second ensemble, Gamelan Bintang Wahyu, is under the direction of Jeremy Grimshaw, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication. The group performs traditional and contemporary percussion music from Bali, an artistically rich island in the Indonesian archipelago.

The evening’s selections will include pieces from three distinct genres. Beleganjur is a type of gamelan or traditional type of percussion music in Bali, used for processions and competitions. It is known by its use of heavy bronze cymbals and drums playing intricate interlocking rhythms. Gender are instruments usually played in a pair or quartet as an accompaniment to shadow puppet theater. Solo, named after the nickname for the Javanese city of Surakarta, uses the main gamelan ensemble of bronze xylophones, gongs, gong chimes, bamboo flutes and drums. The variety of these selections highlights the incredible richness and diversity of the Balinese musical culture.

Grimshaw and several of the ensemble members have studied with some of Bali’s most distinguished musicians, including I Nyoman Windha, I Made Lasmawan and I Dewa Berata. Additionally, plans are currently underway for the BYU School of Music’s second study abroad program in Bali, where participants will engage in intensive study of Balinese music, dance and culture.

The final performance of the evening will be given by Panoramic Steel, directed by Ron Brough, professor of percussion.

“It won’t be your typical steel band concert,” Brough said. “We are trying to perform a lot of variety and have some fun.”

Panoramic Steel performs on 55-gallon oil drums. Although audiences often associate the instruments with Jamaica, they originated in Trinidad and Tobago.

The first piece, “Flamingo Jump,” is a traditional, festive calypso. Next, “Reggae For My Baby,” a Jamaican style tune that is not typically played on steel drums, will be performed. It will also feature Kurt Reeder, a BYU alumni, on a Hammond B3 organ. “Jouvert Morning” will finish off the evening. This last piece originates from the carnival celebration in Trinidad where steel drums play along with big band type groups. The arrangement includes wind instruments and allows for interesting interplay between two groups not frequently combined.

“There is a lot of variety among the groups,” Brough said. “The concert will be a buffet of musical styles from different parts of the world, made more interesting by the fact that they are all done with percussion instruments. There is something about watching drummers – if you go to a concert, your eyes are glued to them. It is always enthralling to watch people hit and clash things. So it is not only an aural feast but a visual feast.”

Tickets and Show Details

  • Performance Dates and Times: Nov. 4 | 7:30 p.m.
  • Location: de Jong Concert Hall, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center, BYU
  • Price: $7-11
  • Tickets: Available in person at the BYU Ticket Office in the Harris Fine Arts Center or the booth in the parking lot west of the football stadium (the Marriott Center Ticket Office is currently closed for renovations), by phone at 801-422-2981 or online at
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