Highland Arts Bringing WVU Percussion Ensemble to Keyser Monday, May 5


The best of the best are coming to Keyser as Highland Arts Unlimited wraps up its season at 7:30 p.m., May 5 with the West Virginia University Percussion Ensemble at the Church-McKee Arts Center on the campus of Potomac State College of WVU.

The WVU Percussion Ensemble was founded in 1956 by music professor Frank Lorince. A student member of the original ensemble, Philip J. Faini, took over as director in 1961. From 1961 to 1993, Faini developed the Percussion Ensemble into a group with a world-wide reputation.

Under Faini’s leadership, the WVU Percussion Ensemble was selected by the U.S. State Department for a nine-nation tour of South America in 1969. The tour included concerts, workshops and television appearances in Argentina Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad and Uruguay.

In 1972 the Percussion Ensemble was the first student group to ever perform at the National Music Education Association Conference. During the 1970s, the Ensemble also appeared on the “Today Show,” on a nationally televised PBS program called “Percussion Noel,” that was nominated for an Emmy Award, and at Expo 74 in Spokane, Washington.

In 1990, The WVU Steel Drum Band was formed within the Percussion Ensemble, performing music that is Caribbean in flavor, featuring predominately all steel drums, with other percussion instruments.

Today, the WVU percussion groups include not only the Percussion Ensemble, but the WVU Steel Band and the WVU African Ensemble, formed in 1995.

The Percussion Ensemble has also made hundreds of appearances in the state, region, nation and overseas. Its repertoire of both classical and popular music provides a uniquely exciting experience.

The ensemble personnel range from doctoral students to freshmen music majors. Many of the students are from West Virginia, but they also come from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Ohio, and Michigan. These percussionists focus on a variety of musical genres as well as have different major concentrations such as music education, music performance, world music, recording technologies, and jazz studies.

As a special event, middle and high school band and chorus students from the area are invited to attend this performance free of charge courtesy of Highland Arts.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Children under 12 are admitted free with a paying adult. Admission is free to HAU members. Advance tickets are available at Anderson's Corner, Romney and Moorefield; Clements Jewelers and The Candlewyck, Keyser; the Allegany Arts Centre in Cumberland or by calling 304-788-3066 or 304-788-9464.

This year’s programs are funded in part by membership contributions, grants from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, the National Endowment for the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, and financial assistance from Potomac State College, the Mineral County Board of Education, and corporate sponsors.