RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • Five Question Friday: Megan Arns (University of Missouri)

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | May 15, 2020

    Megan-ArnsMegan Arns is a percussionist, ethnomusicologist, and educator with a diverse set of skills and a driven passion for her craft. She is an Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Missouri in Columbia. She regularly performs with three contemporary chamber groups: the [Switch~ Ensemble]—an electroacoustic ensemble based in New York City, Clocks in Motion; a percussion quartet based in Madison, Wisconsin; and DRAX—a saxophone and percussion duo in residence at Mizzou. Megan received her D.M.A. in Percussion Performance and Literature and M.A. in Ethnomusicology at the Eastman School of Music.

    Rhythm! Scene: If you weren’t a university percussion professor, what career could you see yourself having pursued?

    Megan Arns: I could see myself working in International Development or Nursing. I have always loved to travel and been passionate about working in under-developed communities, whether through health or the arts. While I have been fortunate to have a university position for the duration of my career so far, I have worked a lot of odd jobs throughout school, including delivering for UPS,making sandwiches at Mr. Goodcents and Panera, collecting U.S. census data, and working in libraries and call centers.

    R!S: What’s one thing in your institution or city/town (other than your school of music or music department) that you are proud to tell people about?

    MA: Columbia is a vibrant little town with lots of great festivals and local businesses. We have a huge international film festival each March called True/False Film Fest, a music and BBQ festival called Roots and Blues every August, the Mizzou International Composers Festival every July, and much more.

    R!S: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

    MA: I love my job and I love to travel! People might not know that I am a certified scuba diver. I got my license while living in Jordan, but don’t have the opportunity to dive much in the U.S.

    R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?

    MA: At the current moment, my favorite percussion instruments would have to be the vibraphone and tuned gongs. The vibraphone has seemingly endless sound possibilities, and I really enjoy working with composers to find creative, non-conventional sounds. Tuned gongs have such a soothing, magical quality; I never tire of their sound or the quest to acquire more from different corners of the globe!

    R!S: Where did you grow up and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?

    MA: I grew up in St. Charles, Missouri, and my primary music education came from playing in a historic youth Fife and Drum Corps. I started off on fife and eventually added snare drum. This group was very active, often with multiple performances a week and a busy travel schedule. It was a great, unique way to grow up with music and travel as part of my early life.

  • Five Question Friday: Anthony Di Sanza (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | May 08, 2020

    Anthony-Di-SanzaAnthony Di Sanza serves as Professor of Percussion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has performed and presented master classes throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Active in a variety of percussive styles, he can be heard on many internationally distributed CD and video recordings with various artists. Reviewing his solo CD release, On the nature of…, All Music Guide writes, “Di Sanza dazzles not only in the assurance and polish of his playing but in his tremendous vitality and spontaneity.” Di Sanza’s percussion compositions have been performed internationally, and he has signature products with multiple percussion companies.

    Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a university percussion professor, what career could you see yourself having pursued?

    Anthony Di Sanza: I do not want to be cliché, but I never really imagined myself doing anything other than a combination of teaching and performing music. As my little anecdote below describes, I was lucky in that I figured out quite early what made me happy, and I am extremely fortunate to have a great job that allows me to balance my own creative work with teaching wonderful students! 

    R!S: What's one thing in your institution or city/town (other than your school of music or music department) that you are proud to tell people about?

    ADS: Madison is a very cool city in which to live as a student or professional. The community has two professional orchestras, countless global, jazz, rock, chamber, etc. performing groups, and many venues to take in the local, regional, and national performance acts that appear regularly in Madison. As the UW-Madison campus, Wisconsin’s flagship university, is integrated into Madison’s vibrant downtown, students have easy access to the myriad artistic, cultural, and community activities in Madison. In short, there is never a shortage of things to do in Madison, both on campus and off.

    R!S: What's one thing about you that your students would unanimously proclaim?

    ADS: I hope that my students would say that I am an energetic, expressive, open-minded, and engaged teacher and performer. I like to think that I approach all aspects of my teaching and performing with positive energy.

    R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?

    ADS: I am not sure I can identify a single favorite percussion instrument. For me, the beauty of the percussion field is in its diversity. That said, at the moment the Middle Eastern frame drum and darabukka (goblet drum) are occupying a great deal of my creative work as a soloist and chamber musician. I love the nuance and flexibility these instruments afford. They are delicate and ornate while possessing great strength and musical power. Additionally, they are both very versatile beyond their traditional settings, blending beautifully in an infinite number of musical settings. I also especially enjoy performing solo marimba and multiple percussion works, exploring contemporary repertoire by established and young composers.

    R!S: Where did you grow up and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?

    ADS: I was born and spent most of my youth in the east suburbs and exurbs of Cleveland. While we moved around a good amount (including two years in California), I spent all of my middle and high school years in one school system and benefited from a strong music program. Interestingly, I can pinpoint the exact moment that I fell in love with music and decided to be a serious musician. During junior high school I was a terrible music student, goofing off in the percussion section and rarely contributing in any positive or constructive manner. I spent two years driving my band director crazy with indifference and annoying behavior. Then, during a ninth grade band concert (in the dark ages, ninth grade was often the last year of junior high), while playing “Blue Ridge Overture” by Frank Erickson, I had a moment of epiphany, realizing that playing timpani on that piece at that time was something that was truly joyful and important to me. I knew at that moment that music was something that would be a guiding force in my life. The concert was in December; in May I won the “Most Improved Band Member Award" and never looked back.

  • Five Question Friday: Andrew Wheelock (University of Wyoming)

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | May 01, 2020

    Andrew-WheelockAndrew Wheelock is the Percussion Area Coordinator at the University of Wyoming and is an active performer and composer in classical and jazz genres. Wheelock’s latest recordings include Slow Play by the Ben Markley Quartet ft. Joel Frahm, Away from Home by Gonzalo Teppa, Live at the Iron Post by Justin Copeland, and Accidental Nomad by Dimitrije Vasiljevic. He has performed with Bobby Shew, Chuchito Valdés, Ivan Trevino, Matt Olson, Chip Stephens, Tito Carrillo, Larry Gray, and Bill Sears. Wheelock earned his MM and DMA in Jazz Studies from the University of Illinois and his BME from Central Michigan University.

    Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a university percussion professor, what career could you see yourself having pursued?

    Andrew Wheelock: I would have moved to NYC or Miami to pursue a career as a full-time performer/touring musician. If not music, I would have liked to take up a career in carpentry.

    R!S: What's one thing in your institution or city/town (other than your school of music or music department) that you are proud to tell people about?

    AW: Laramie Wyoming has over 300 days of sunshine every year, and there are beautiful mountains no more than an hour in any direction.

    R!S: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

    AW: I love carpentry and have built most of the furniture in my home.

    R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?

    AW: My favorite percussion instrument is drum set followed by congas. Playing drum set challenges musicianship in so many ways simultaneously. Also, it requires you to be fluent in every style you are playing because it is most often improvised. In another life, I would play congas 24/7. There is so much history, culture, and depth in that instrument!

    R!S: Where did you grow up and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?

    AW: I grew up in Suttons Bay, Michigan. Perhaps the most interesting thing about me is that I was homeschooled until seventh grade and I grew up with five brothers.

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