WVU percussionists head to Oak Glen

The West Virginia University Percussion Ensemble will take the stage three times May 9-10 at the Oak Glen High School’s Little Theatre. — Contributed

NEW CUMBERLAND — The West Virginia University Percussion Ensemble will visit the Mountain State’s Northern Panhandle and perform a series of concerts at Oak Glen High School’s Little Theatre on May 9-10.

There will be three daytime assemblies for students and band members representing schools from throughout the Tri-State Area, as well as two public performances, a matinee and an evening concert scheduled for May 9.

The ensemble has performed in every area of the state and beyond many times over, according to officials. Whether playing in Morgantown at the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre or throughout the state and region, the ensemble has enjoyed a faithful following.

In the beginning, under the direction of Phil Faini, the standard was established for enjoyable programs that brought music from around the world together with the standard western repertoire. The ensemble earned national and international acclaim during Faini’s tenure.

The percussion ensemble has toured Japan with many successful performances, as well as been a part of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, one of the highest honors that can bestowed on a percussion ensemble.

Since 2004, the ensemble has been under the direction of professor George R. Willis and continues to travel throughout the United States, performing some of the the most challenging music found in today’s repertoire, as well as ethnic arrangements from around the world, at universities and public venues, officials noted.

In addition to serving as the director of percussion studies at WVU, Willis performs with the Pittsburgh Symphony and recently toured with the orchestra in Germany and Austria. He has recorded with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and performs with his wife, Ellen-Maria Willis, in an ensemble called the Willis Duo. He is the director of the Mountaineer Fifes and Drums at WVU and has researched and performed fife and drum music throughout the Eastern United States, in addition to attending the Fasnacht Fife and Drum Festival in Basel, Switzerland.

The ensemble’s tour of the Northern Panhandle is being co-sponsored by Montani Semper Liberi – Music & Art and the Oak Glen Middle School Culture Club.

Tickets to the ensemble’s two public performances will be on sale at Oak Glen Middle School during regular school hours or can be purchased through the mail. All seats for the 3 p.m. matinee on May 9 are $10. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance that same date are priced at $12. Checks should be made payable to: M.S.L. — Music & Art, 116 First Street, Chester, WV 26034. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope. For information, call (304) 374-7474.