Friday, January 13, 2012

Iron Giant: UAB music grads, student with a passion for percussion set free Tuesday concert

What do you get when you combine four Birmingham musicians with a passion for percussion? An Iron Giant.

Iron Giant Percussion was formed when students Sam Herman, Brett Huffman, Seth Noble and Justin Wallace collaborated. Three of the four have since graduated, and the group is inspired and moving forward. The UAB Department of Music will present them live in a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Center.

The performance is the culmination of much planning and rehearsal by the four musicians on stage. They first collaborated on “Ritual Music” in 2010 for Seth Noble’s Young Performing Artist Program recital at UAB. They again performed the work in spring 2011 for the Sanspointe Dance Company in Birmingham. As they prepared, talk of forming their own percussion quartet became more frequent, with the ultimate goal of performing an entire concert on their own.

All of the music on the program was prepared outside of any class time and completely on their own volition, with occasional coaching by Gene Fambrough, D.M.A., assistant professor of percussion at UAB. They named their group “Iron Giant Percussion” as a reference to the city of Birmingham and its unofficial representative, Vulcan. On the program Tuesday is “Ku-Ka-Ilimoku” by Christopher Rouse, a work for percussion ensemble noted on the program as “a savage, propulsive war dance.” “Timeless,” by Michael Burritt, a work for solo percussion and percussion trio that features solo marimba; “Ritual Music (variations on the numbers 2 and 4)” by David Skidmore, which is “a sort of overture for percussion;” and “Threads” by Paul Lansky, a half-hour long "cantata" for percussion quartet in 10 short movements, complete the concert.

Their mighty effort has already won them praise from Birmingham Art Music Alliance —they have received the honor of a commissioned concert by BAMA to be presented during the 2012-13 season. BAMA member composers are invited to submit scores for Iron Giant to perform, and the members will choose the pieces they will premiere. And what do Iron Giants dream of? More concerts, locally and regionally.

(Vulcan photo 2004 courtesy Rob Lagerstrom/Vulcan Park and Museum)

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