Percussion - University of Houston
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Blake Wilkins
Professor of Percussion
Division Head of Percussion

phone: 713 - 743 - 3192
office: MSM 186

Welcome to the Moores School of Music percussion ensemble! The percussion Ensemble facilitates the student percussionist's growth as a comprehensive musician. It is without question the most important applied dimension of the percussionist's endeavors at the Moores School of Music and we perform a wide variety of music, written expressly for percussion ensemble by some of the most talented and innovative composers throughout the world. Its potential is demonstrated by the attention it has garnered from some of this country's most noted composers, including David Maslanka, Dan Welcher, Christopher Rouse, and many others. The ensemble is a three-time Percussive Arts Society Percussion Ensemble Competition winner, has commissioned and premiered over a dozen new works for large percussion ensemble and has recorded three critically acclaimed commercial CDs.



Percussion Ensemble

The percussion ensemble is a vibrant and exciting ensemble, incorporating virtually all of our percussion majors, performs classically-oriented works composed expressly for percussion and scored for four to thirteen percussionists. The ensemble currently performs at least one major concert each semester and rehearses for two hours twice weekly. Established in the Fall of 1997, the founding philosophy lies both in the opportunities it provides for effective teaching and in its purely artistic potential. From a pedagogical orientation, the Percussion Ensemble is an integral component of our multidimensional, comprehensive percussion training.

On the one hand, the individual student's weekly private lesson deals in great detail with concepts and issues of technique, musicality, and performance; in complementary fashion, the Percussion Ensemble serves as the "workshop" within which those concepts can be most fully explored and musicianship most thoroughly developed. While the experience of rehearsals and performances with such large organizations as orchestra and wind ensemble are invaluable for the performing percussionist and critical to the training of the music educator, these media do not allow the student percussionist the same richness of musical involvement as for the other orchestral instrumentalists.

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In the Percussion Ensemble percussionists can enjoy a full range of music experience as we are committed to creative programming that embraces any number of musical styles and instrument combinations, many of the work programmed show a heavy reliance on keyboard instruments. In such an environment the percussion student is more intimately involved as an active participant with the traditional components of a "symphonic" ideal -- i.e., the handling of thematic materials, melody, harmony, etc. Hence, the percussion ensemble facilitates the exploration of such fundamental concepts as phrasing, chordal balance, and musical expression. It also affords us the opportunity to focus more deeply and intensely on the development of ensemble skills to a degree that is simply not possible for percussionists in the orchestral or wind ensemble environment.

Beyond this pedagogical aspect, the Percussion Ensemble maintains an equally important aesthetic dimension. The Percussion Ensemble is not simply a training ensemble, but a uniquely viable musical medium capable of a level of musical expression equal to or exceeding that of any other traditional chamber ensemble.


Steel Drum Band

The Moores School Steel Drum Band was made possible by the generous donation of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kelly of Austin, TX. The debut of the band was the halftime performance at the University of Houston vs. Cincinnati Men's Basketball game, Hofheinz Pavilion (February 17, 2000). This appearance prompted requests by the athletic department for appearances at other UH sporting events. Subsequently, the band performed at the Houston Museum of Natural Science for the 6th International Conference on Materials and Mechanisms of Superconductivity and High Temperature Superconductors, sponsored by the University of Houston Center for Superconductivity. Both these highly successful appearances have garnered the band significant exposure and stimulated a great deal of interest for future performances.


Known also as "The PANtagonists," the Moores School Steel Drum Band currently consists of nine percussionists (3 Leads, 2 Double Seconds, 1 Guitar, 1 Cello, 1 Bass, along with electric bass guitar and drum set). It is directed by Dr. Wilkins and includes both percussion majors and non-majors. The band generally rehearses once weekly and performs traditional tunes, Panyard charts, and arrangements by Dr. Wilkins. However, our Steel Band environment students the chance to arrange popular songs and traditional tunes for the band as well.

Percussion Division 

The Moores School of Music percussion division provides an intensive and comprehensive program of study built on a total percussion perspective. We boast one of the finest and most extensive collections of percussion instruments in the country