RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • Five Question Friday: William Labossiere

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | May 06, 2022

    William LabossiereWilliam Labossiere is an active performer, composer, and educator of percussion and piano. Currently working towards his master’s degree from UNCG, Will has played with such groups as the Cambridge Symphony and the Gettysburg Orchestra, as well as doing freelance work on drum set, percussion, and piano. He is an avid improviser and will join the American Dance Festival at Duke University as a music accompanist apprentice in the summer of 2022. As a composer, Will is published with Kaiser-Southern music, and is living and working in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

    R!S: How do you find new pieces that you are interested in playing? What factors do you consider when seeking out and/or choosing new solo or chamber repertoire?

    William Labossiere: I will try to curate an arc and theme for the recital or performance, then research using those qualifiers. I will also include improvisations, personal compositions, or commissions in order to continue to expand the percussion repertoire and personalize the experience.

    R!S: What do you find changes about the way you play a piece as you “live” with it for a while? Do you typically perform a piece once or multiple times?

    WL: As I live with a piece, the more I am able to establish an emotional connection to the piece. I begin to craft stories and settings in my head so that when I perform, I try not to simply recite from memory, but depict a story or emotion. I try to perform a piece as many times as I can.

    R!S: How involved and in what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?

    WL: My teachers are usually partially involved in my selections, but for the most part, I am given free range over my choices. We will often have discussions about why certain rep would work better than others.

    R!S: Do you finish every piece that you start to learn? If not, why not? If a piece seems like a poor fit or you struggle unusually with a piece, how do you proceed? Do you “bail” on the selection, or what changes do you make to allow yourself to complete it?

    WL: I try to finish every piece, but sometimes, I find that certain pieces aren’t a good fit for me. If it is a problem with facility, then I know that I have a larger issue, and I will break down sections and create etudes for the parts I struggle with.

    R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?

    WL: My favorite piece to perform was definitely “On the Singular Nature of Sherlock Holmes” by Clarence Barber, written for an actor and percussionist. It was an amazing experience to work with an actor to craft a unique theatrical event. The percussionist was both co-actor and the soundtrack to the act.

  • Five Question Friday: Sean McWilliams

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Apr 29, 2022

    Sean McWilliamsSean McWilliams is studying percussion performance and music education at West Chester University with Dr. Ralph Sorrentino and David Nelson. Sean has spent time in multiple percussive idioms: timpanist with The Cadets in 2016 and 2017, and attending the Cloyd Duff Timpani Masterclass in 2018 and the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in 2019 and 2021. Sean has also participated in extracurricular performance opportunities such as the PASIC All-Star Collegiate Percussion Ensemble in 2019 and the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, and he taught at the Symphony in C Summer Music Camps as a teaching artist. Sean serves as a member of the PAS University Student Committee.

    R!S: How do you find new pieces that you are interested in playing? What factors do you consider when seeking out and/or choosing new solo or chamber repertoire?

    Sean McWilliams: I listen to a lot of recordings on YouTube as well as Naxos. A lot of times, I like to get really nerdy with it and look up my favorite composers’ discographies, searching for their other pieces that may catch my eye. I like to consider the composer’s background, style, musical language, and more often than not, I’ll notice if other percussionists are finding their music to be “hip” and investigate for myself.

    R!S: What changes about the way you play a piece as you “live” with it for a while? Do you typically perform a piece once or multiple times?

    SM: Most pieces I play are only played once or maybe twice. I often will get a test run where I play for my peers in studio class, although sometimes there are pieces I get much more of mileage out of. For most pieces, the more I play and have them in my hands, the more enjoyment I experience and the more “authentically” I feel I can portray the musical ideas.

    R!S: How involved and in what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?

    SM: I usually seek out my professors’ opinions on pieces I am interested in learning. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that I am still and always will be learning. Although I may enjoy a piece, it may not always be the best choice from a strategic or pedagogical standpoint (e.g., graduate school auditions, competitions, community performances vs. school performances, etc.).

    R!S: Do you finish every piece that you start to learn? If not, why not? If a piece seems like a poor fit or you struggle unusually with a piece, how do you proceed? Do you “bail” on the selection, or what changes do you make to allow yourself to complete it?

    SM: I tend to finish most pieces that I begin learning. The only reason I’ve stopped learning a piece is if I no longer had the opportunity to perform that piece. If I ever encounter a technical issue or musical issue, I make a point to overcome that obstacle through the direct help of a mentor, teacher, or peer.

    R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?

    SM: During my second year studying at West Chester University, a quartet of sophomores formed and played “Ku-Ka-Ilimoku” by Christopher Rouse. We had a sectional once a week at 8:00 a.m., which meant an even earlier setup time due to this piece’s large setup. The work and development throughout the semester led to a great performance at our percussion ensemble concert. That satisfaction and experiencing it with some of my closest friends is something I will remember for the rest of my life!

  • Five Question Friday: Sammie Romashko

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Apr 22, 2022

    Sammie Romashko

    Sammie Romashko is in her last year of undergraduate studies, pursuing degrees in music education and percussion performance. She enjoys playing in a variety of ensembles — orchestra, wind symphony, percussion ensemble, steel band, and jazz band — and has been working the past few years with a nearby high school conducting their percussion ensemble. In April of 2021, she had the opportunity to sit on a panel of women from all walks of life to discuss women in the percussion field, why there may be so few, and how we can remedy that in the future. Sammie is currently in her second year of sitting on the PAS University Student Committee and looks forward to all of the amazing things that this committee will do for young percussionists.

    R!S: How do you find new pieces that you are interested in playing? What factors do you consider when seeking out and/or choosing new solo or chamber repertoire?

    Sammie Romashko: I often utilize YouTube performances from some of my favorite percussionists and trusted channels. I typically pick music based on what instruments may be available for me and the amount of time that I have to learn it. Most importantly, I make sure that I really like the piece enough to put all of the time and effort into it!

    R!S: What changes about the way you play a piece as you “live” with it for a while? Do you typically perform a piece once or multiple times?

    SR: Researching and learning the history of a piece while living with it helps me to play it better. Understanding why composers wrote what they wrote is such a big part of the performance process. I typically only get the opportunity to perform a piece once, occasionally twice. 

    R!S: How involved and in what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?

    SR: My instructor will give advice and assistance if I request it, but mostly I choose my own repertoire and my teacher assists in the instructing. 

    R!S: Do you finish every piece that you start to learn? If not, why not? If a piece seems like a poor fit or you struggle unusually with a piece, how do you proceed? Do you “bail” on the selection or what changes do you make to allow yourself to complete it?

    SR: I have finished almost every piece I have started to learn. There was one piece for my upcoming senior recital that I had to cut and change because of lack of a marimba to practice on over the summer. With the difficultly level of the piece, I knew I would not be able to make it as good as I wanted it to be in time for the recital. I plan to perform it next year or in a few years.

    R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?

    SR: I really loved playing the third movement of William Kraft's “Timpani Concerto No. 1” with my good friend accompanying me on piano. I loved all of the different sounds that the timpani could produce that were not "typical." I put a lot of work into the piece, and getting to see it be performed on stage after all of that time was very rewarding! 

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